Are Multivitamins Worth Taking?

 

Multivitamins get their name because they contain many different (i.e. multiple) vitamins. They usually contain several minerals and other ingredients like amino acids or fatty acids as well. Multivitamins are also the most commonly used supplements in the world!

 

Do you take multivitamins? Why or why not?

 

In today’s post, I will cover some of the benefits of multivitamins and reasons you may want to take them. I will also discuss some of the arguments against using them. This balanced review should arm you with the information you need to decide whether they are right for you personally.

 

Many people think that if you follow a balanced diet, you’ll get enough vitamins and minerals and that multivitamins just create “expensive pee.” I would love to believe it … but it’s just not true. Most people are eating too much processed food and are deficient in nutrients (i.e. overfed and undernourished). And even for those eating close to a “perfect” diet, recent decades have seen nutrient depletions in our food.

 

What I mean is that the number of vitamins and minerals in our produce has steadily declined over the past few decades. That carrot you ate a few decades ago contained a lot more nutrition than the one you are eating today. The reductions amount to between 15 and 40% depending on the nutrient being studied.

 

In addition, the increase in our stress hormones and the high level of toxins in our environment mean that our bodies demand additional nutrients to manage our hormone balance and deal with these toxins.

 

Health Benefits of Multivitamins

 

 

Multivitamins as a supplement have been studied a lot, however, the results have been inconsistent. Nonetheless, a number of positive health benefits have been found such as:

 

 

In most research, the multivitamins studied are ones that are very popular, inexpensive and widely available. They are often “one a day” brands for easy compliance. These are not necessarily the best ones for our health. For instance, the Centrum brand is commonly included in studies and is of particularly poor quality.

 

Therefore, it is important to use a multivitamin that contains the most usable forms (you can see the form on the label). And typically, taking more than one dose a day is better since the water-soluble vitamins only stay in our system for a limited period of time.

 

Is There a Downside to Multivitamins?

 

The main downside to taking a multi is that because it typically contains a large number of vitamins and minerals, it only contains very small amounts of each. And this typically does not result in therapeutic benefits.

 

So, if you are experiencing specific symptoms, you should be working with a practitioner to identify the root causes of your issues and determine which nutrients you need to take in therapeutic doses.

 

Are Multivitamins Safe?

 

Because multivitamins have such low doses of various nutrients, studies have consistently shown that they are very safe for most people. It is always important to stick with the dose on the label unless you have a knowledgeable practitioner to advise you otherwise.

 

There have been many times when supplements (not just multivitamins) have been tested and found to contain different ingredients than what’s on the label. Either different quantities or different ingredients altogether.

 

This is why choosing supplements that are licensed (like in Canada), and from reputable companies is so important.

 

Bottom Line

 

 

Multivitamins do not replace a poor diet. Also, they do not contain enough of a specific vitamin or mineral to provide a therapeutic dose. However, beneficial outcomes have been shown in studies and they’re also safe (as long as you have a quality product).

 

>>>>>>This is the multivitamin that I take. Feel free to email me to order.

 

Not sure if a multivitamin is for you? Perhaps you have specific symptoms and you would like to figure out the root cause? Book a free 20-minute call with Bonnie here to discuss your options.

How Do I Get the Right Amount of Protein?

 

When we think of protein, we often think about building muscle. But there is so much more to it!

 

From producing important molecules for cellular function and repair, to supporting strong hair, skin, and nails, to assisting with weight management and moods… protein is essential.

 

However, even though it’s essential, everyone’ protein needs are different. How do you know how much is right for you and then how can you be sure you’re actually getting it?

 

How much protein is enough?

 

The minimum recommendation to prevent deficiency is 0.8 g/kg (or 0.36 g/pound) per day. So, for a 68 kg (150 pounds) healthy non-athlete adult, this is about 55 g protein/day.

 

However, this is a minimum, not an optimal amount. It’s not enough for athletes whose bodies demand more, seniors who are trying to maintain muscle mass or those recovering from an injury. In this case, your protein intake should be closer to 1.3 g/kg (or 0.6 g/pound) per day.

 

Can you get too much protein?

 

Eating too much of anything, including protein, can be a problem. For instance, in the case of excess intake, extra protein can be converted into sugar and stored as fat in the body leading to weight gain.

 

 

Also, a common concern about protein is that higher intakes will harm the kidneys. If your kidneys are healthy, they are more than capable of filtering out excess amino acids from the blood. And plant proteins are especially safe for kidneys. The problem only occurs in people who already have kidney issues.

 

Can protein help me lose weight?

 

 

Protein can be helpful for weight loss because it isn’t broken down as easily or quickly as carbohydrates or fat. This is because of its thermic effect. In other words, it requires more energy to digest, absorb, transport and store than the other macronutrients. That means you burn more calories breaking down protein than when metabolizing fats or carbohydrates.

 

As a result, protein can help to keep you fuller for longer and therefore consume less food overall.

 

Protein in specific foods (in descending order)

 

 

  • A 3.5 oz chicken breast – 31 g
  • A 3.5 oz can of salmon – 20 g
  • ½ cup cooked beans (legumes) – 6-9 g
  • A large egg – 6 g
  • ¼ cup nuts – 4-7 g
  • 1 medium baked potato – 3 g

 

Bottom Line

 

Protein is an essential nutrient that we all need. Getting about 0.8 – 1.3 g/kg (0.36 – 0.6 g/lb) per day is an appropriate range. If you’re a healthy non-athlete adult, you can aim for the lower level. If you’re an athlete, senior, or recovering from an injury, aim for the higher level.

 

With protein, it’s best to have just enough to meet your needs.

 

Are you one of those people who needs more protein? Let me know in the comments. And if you need help to figure out what is best for you and your goals, please book a free discovery call with Bonnie here.

Should You Soak Your Nuts?

 

Have you ever heard of soaking or sprouting your nuts? How about soaking seeds, grains, and legumes? Do you know anyone who does that? Do you want to know what I do? (scroll down to the bottom for the answer!)

 

The reason some people take the time to soak and sprout certain foods is to reduce phytic acid in these foods, improve their digestibility and improve nutrient absorption.

 

Phytic acid is naturally present in most nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. It is the plant’s storage form of the mineral phosphorus and is used as the plant’s energy when it starts to grow.

 

About Phytic Acid

Phytic acid binds to the minerals iron, zinc, and calcium preventing them from being fully absorbed. This is why it is known as a “mineral reducer” or “anti-nutrient.”

 

NOTE: Phytic acid’s effects only apply to mineral-containing foods in the current meal. Once digested, there is no mineral reduction on any future meals and there is no impact to the minerals your body has already absorbed.

 

Benefits of Phytic Acid

Phytic acid has some health benefits too.

  • It can act as an antioxidant.
  • It can also help reduce your risk of kidney stones, heart disease, and even some cancers.
  • It can bind to heavy metals in your gut that you may have ingested with your food and protect you from them.

 

Phytic Acid and Eating Style

On balance, phytic acid isn’t a huge concern, unless your main foods at most meals are nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. (If you eat a vegan/vegetarian diet this may be a concern). Also, if your body is already deficient in these nutrients, then phytic acid may exacerbate your problem. Also, if you’re struggling to lose weight, mineral deficiencies may be one of the reasons.

 

Reducing Phytic Acid

 

 

If you want to reduce how much you consume, you have a few options.

  • Soaking – Place nuts, seeds, grains or legumes in a bowl, cover with water and leave overnight. Then drain the water and rinse before drying, eating or preparing.
  • Sprouting – After soaking, draining, and rinsing, place damp nuts, seeds, grains or legumes into a container that’s exposed to the air (like a mason jar with a mesh lid). Every 8 hours or so, re-rinse them and drain the water. Continue doing this for a few days until you see sprouts peeking out.

 

Why do soaking and sprouting help reduce phytic acid in certain foods? It is because being wet is a trigger to leave the dormant state and start to grow. Enzymes activated during soaking and sprouting deactivate phytic acid so the energy and stored minerals fare available for the plant to grow.

 

Bottom Line

Phytic acid (found in nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes) prevents absorption of critical minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium if they’re in your gut at the same time. This can be a problem if you are deficient in these minerals, or if you eat a vegan or vegetarian diet. In this case, you can reduce levels by soaking or sprouting.

 

If you eat a varied diet, then the amount of phytic acid you’re consuming shouldn’t be a concern. And phytic acid does have some health benefits.

 

Do I soak my nuts? The answer is sometimes. I definitely do when I am cooking with them as they blend up easier and I’m in cooking-mode anyway. Here is a recipe that I make using soaked nuts.

 

For nuts that we are just going to snack on, I don’t bother. It’s too much effort, plus I eat a varied, paleo-type diet that is balanced and I don’t consume a lot of grains or legumes.

 

So, there you have it. Which camp are you in? Will you soak and sprout? Let me know in the comments below.

Look Years Younger with Nutrition and Lifestyle

 

Do you ever feel like your skin is looking older than you are and want to know what you can do about it?

 

Sure, we know that excess UV ray exposure causes skin aging. But did you know that your diet and lifestyle can cause accelerated skin aging as well?

 

How Excess Sugar Damages Skin

 

I’ve written about ditching the sugar habit for our health and weight loss. But did you know that limiting sugar can also help to slow the aging process? This is particularly noticeable for our skin health. None of us (including me!) is immune to wanting to do what we can to reduce those wrinkles!

 

When we eat too much sugar, we end up with excess glucose in our bloodstream. This excess glucose binds to proteins in our body forming what is called Advanced Glycation End Products (or conveniently, AGEs for short). When AGEs accumulate in skin tissue, skin elasticity is reduced increasing wrinkle formation.

 

Also, an interesting study demonstrated that those individuals who had increased glucose levels had a corresponding increase in perceived age. Wow!

 

How Stress Leads to Wrinkles

 

What about lifestyle? Is there anything that we can do there to look younger? You bet! And reducing stress is at the top of the list.

 

Stress causes cortisol levels to rise, which then triggers an increase in blood glucose levels. Yes, high stress causes a glucose response as if you were eating sugar (even when you’re not!). And again, this leads to compromised collagen and elastin from the production of excess AGEs.

 

Here’s the Action Plan

 

Ditch the Sugar

 

 

This doesn’t mean you can never have a piece of fruit, but take some time to look at your daily habits. Analyse where there may be excess sugar sneaking in and work on ways to replace it with other things so you don’t feel deprived. Want some help problem-solving?

 

Get Support. Join my free private Facebook community (called Making Healthy Eating Easy – MHEE for short) and ask for help. Want some more guidance with my sugar-free guide? Click below to download the guide.

 

>>>>>>>>Click here to download the sugar-free guide

 

Reduce Stress

 

This one is a no-brainer, we all agree we should reduce stress. The issue with doing it is twofold.

  1. Trouble identifying when and where you’re experiencing stress. Sometimes we don’t slow down enough to recognize it.
  2. Knowing what to do to reduce stress, how to do it, and how to fit it into our day.

 

 

Start Small. The idea that you’re going to start meditating for 30 minutes per day right off the bat may set you up for disappointment when you don’t stick with it. Start with something small like

  • a 5-minute meditation before bed,
  • deep breathing for 30 seconds a few times per day or
  • making a list of 3 things you are grateful for first thing every morning.

 

It doesn’t have to be something big. It’s about picking something that you will stick with and do daily over the long term. Which one will you start with? Please let us know in the comments!!

 

If you are interested in learning how my nutrition approach may work for you and your goals, book a free call with Bonnie here to discuss.

Which is Better: Smoothies or Juices?

 

This is a confusing question, isn’t it? For instance, smoothies have been around for a long time, but we keep hearing about how many of them are unhealthy because they are high in sugar.

 

Juices, on the other hand, are newer to the health scene. Stores dedicated to juicing are opening and it seems like a new juicing health revolution is starting. Have you seen the film Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead that is all about one man’s journey across the US drinking only fresh juice?

 

But then we hear about how juicing is ALSO high in sugar AND is missing all the fiber found in the whole foods used to make the juice.

 

The advice to eat more fruits and vegetables is valid. So, are these drinks healthy or not?

 

The short answer is yes and no. Yes, they can be healthy, but not if too much fruit or sweeteners is included. Also, it’s important to use each at the right time of day, for the right purpose and in the right quantity.

 

Here’s a summary of the pros and cons of each. Then I explain how I use each of them in my own diet.

 

 

Smoothies
Pros:
  • Include the whole foods so they retain all the fiber. The fiber keeps you full and also slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream
  • Provide an opportunity to included sources of fat (such as avocado) and protein (such as hemp seeds or protein powder) making your smoothie a complete meal. Healthy fats and protein also slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream
  • Require only a blender, which is a common appliance in your kitchen

 

Cons:
  • Can be too high in sugar if too much fruit or sweeteners are used

 

 

Juices
Pros:
  • Removes all the fiber so that the nutrients in the fruits and vegetables are absorbed quickly by the body

 

Cons:
  • Can spike your blood sugar quickly since there is no fiber to slow absorption
  • Are not a complete meal since they don’t contain any protein, healthy fats or fiber
  • Require a specialized appliance that most kitchens don’t already have
  • Are expensive to purchase commercially

 

So, how do I use them?

 

I use smoothies as a complete breakfast. Some of my favourite ones that have a balance of macronutrients and are very low in sugar are:

Blissful Blueberry Smoothie

Supergreen Breakfast Smoothie

Strawberry Beet Smoothie

 

I use juices only when they do not contain fruit (except lemon or lime) and only on an empty stomach. This is so that the nutrients can be absorbed quickly into my body. Also, I use juice as a snack and don’t use it to replace a meal.

 

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to use these nutrient-rich beverages. If you would like some further ideas on how you can eat for energy and weight loss, I have 2 free recipe e-books to offer you.

5 Day Sugar-free Meal Plan and Guide

20-minute Blood Sugar Balancing Dinners

How Much Sugar Should I Eat?

 

I have some exciting news…. it’s official! Organizations and governments are (finally!) declaring a maximum amount of daily sugar intake.

 

While this is a step forward, there are still a few problems…

  • Different authorities don’t all agree with each other.
  • The new regulations don’t go far enough in my opinion.

 

We all know sugar is NOT healthy for us. It has no nutrients, and excess consumption is associated with health problems.

 

Sugar is naturally a part of some foods and is also added to many food products. This “added sugar” is a factor in many chronic diseases. Sugar is inflammatory. Too much is associated with weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and cavities. It’s a huge health risk, no matter how you look at it.

 

So how much sugar is “too much?”

 

Added Sugar vs. Natural Sugar

 

 

Let’s start with the difference between “added” sugar and “naturally occurring” sugar.

 

Fruit and other healthy whole foods contain sugar. They also contain water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other phytochemicals. They are good for you. Eating fruits and vegetables is a well-proven way to reduce your risks of many chronic diseases.

 

“Added sugars,” on the other hand, are a big problem. In 2013, the American Heart Association calculated that about 180,000 deaths worldwide per year were due to sweetened beverages. “Added sugars” are also in baked goods, candies, soups, sauces and other processed foods. You can find sugar on the ingredient list as many names and forms (that’s confusing right?).

 

Total sugars = Naturally occurring sugars + Added sugars.

 

The Official Change

 

The official change on the Nutrition Facts tables applies in both Canada and the USA. We will now start to see a %DV (% daily value). This means that both countries are implementing a benchmark for how much sugar we should have in a day.

 

In 2008, the average daily total sugar intake in the USA was 76.7 grams per day. And our experience has been that this is not health promoting.

 

In Canada, the new benchmark is 100 g/day of total sugar. The Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation’s recommendation is no more than 90 g of total sugars per day. In my opinion, these benchmarks are too high even though they include both natural and added sugars.

 

In the USA, the labels will now differentiate between naturally occurring and added sugars. They have decided on a maximum of 50 g of “added” sugars each day. However, this is still more than other authorities recommend such as:

 

What’s a Better Goal?

 

While these official numbers are a step in the right direction, they don’t go far enough in helping people to determine what foods to choose. So here goes…

 

First, ditch as many processed foods as possible, regardless of their sugar content. Studies show that show that processed foods are bad for your health. Period. And don’t eat your entire daily value of sugar from sweetened processed foods. Get your sugar from whole, unprocessed fruits.

 

Second, you don’t need to max out your daily sugar intake. There is NO NEED for added sugars in the diet. And these are maximums, not levels to strive for. Try to reduce your sugar intake below these official amounts for an even better goal.

 

Action Plan

 

 

Here are my top 3 recommendations to reduce your sugar intake. There are so many delicious foods without too much sugar!

  • Eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages…these are the worst. This includes soda pop, sweetened coffee/tea, sports drinks, etc. Replace with fruit-infused water. Try drinking your coffee/tea with a touch of cinnamon or vanilla instead of sugar.
  • Make your own desserts. You can easily reduce the sugar in any conventional recipe by half. To make it easy, try some of the delicious “no sugar added” recipes below.
  • Replace granola bars and other sugary snacks with fruit, a handful of nuts, hard-boiled eggs or veggies with hummus. These are easy grab-and-go snacks if you prepare them in a “to-go” container the night before.

 

Let me know in the comments your favorite tips to reduce your sugar intake!

 

And check out my FREE sugar-free recipes and guidebook for further information.

>>>>>>>>>Download your sugar-free guide here.

Which Fats are Good and Which are Bad?

 

If you’ve been reading about health and nutrition lately, you’ve probably read things like “eat more fat” or “butter is back”.

 

But before you load up your grocery cart, it’s important to understand that all fat is NOT created equal!

 

Fat is one of the three macronutrients (the others are protein and carbohydrates). Some fats are important for healing and others cause us harm.

 

Healthy healing fats support your brain, hormones, immune system, heart health, and moods. Bad fats harm all of these body systems.

 

The fats from whole foods that are the least processed will be the healthiest for you. Pretty obvious right? However, in order to be able to create change, you will need to know which fats we’re talking about and how to incorporate them into your diet. Read below to get you started:

 

Healthy Fats

 

 

Health promoting fats are in the following foods and consist of mono and polyunsaturated fats as well as saturated fats.

  • Nuts and seeds (including hemp, flax, and chia)
  • Fish – Selecting small-species, wild caught fish will help you reduce your exposures to mercury levels that can accumulate.
  • Seaweed
  • Pasture-raised/grass-fed animals/eggs – Yes, the pasture-raised/grass-fed part is important here. Why? Because the fats in animals raised in conventional/overcrowded feedlots are of poor quality due to the unnatural and junk-filled food they are fed. Don’t forget, “you eat what your meat eats”. Check out what your meat is eating here.
  • Olives
  • Avocados
  • Coconuts – Coconuts are a source of saturated fat. And yes, even though you may have read otherwise, coconut oil is a healthy source of fat to include in your well-balanced diet.

 

 

Extra virgin olive oil is agreed by most to be one of the healthiest options. It is great cold in dips and dressings, and can also withstand a moderate amount of heat. By definition, if the “extra virgin” label is used, it must:

  • Be cold pressed
  • Not contain any refined olive oil
  • Possess superior quality based on chemical composition and sensory characteristics.

 

These standards ensure higher quality. Plus, the minimal processing helps to maintain some of the antioxidants in the oils. What a win!

 

Now tell me: What’s your favorite fat and why?

 

Harming Fats

 

 

Fats that harm are from:

  • Seed and vegetable oils like safflower, soybean, and corn oils
  • Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated

Hydrogenated oils are particularly bad; this is because they contain small amounts of “trans” fats. Studies show that even small amounts of trans fats lead to insulin resistance, inflammation, belly fat. They also drastically raise the risk of heart disease. Yikes!

 

Don’t forget, we’re not just talking about the bottles of these fats used for home cooking. We’re also looking at the processed foods that contain them.

 

How to Include Healthy Fats

 

First, ditch any foods in your cupboards that contain safflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, or any hydrogenated oil. Soybean oil alone accounts for over 75% of oils consumed by Americans, so it’s likely you have some foods in your cupboard that include it.

 

Second, try substituting one of the health-building oils whenever you have a recipe that calls for the other stuff. Try flax or extra virgin olive oil as a salad dressing, avocado oil in your cooking, and coconut oil in your baking. To learn more about which oils to cook with click here.

 

Third, make healthier versions of your go-to processed foods. Here are some great recipes to get you started.

 

Replace…

 

Store-bought mayo with Easy Homemade Mayonnaise

Your candy fix with Chocolate Mint Fat Bombs

Pre-packaged salad dressing with Orange Hemp Seed Salad Dressing

Potato chips with Cheesy Kale Chips

 

Interested in more recipes including healthy fats? Sign up to download my dinner recipe book for free (all recipes can be made in 20 minutes or less!!)

>>>>>>>>>>>Download the recipe book here.

5 Easy Ways to Beat Bloating

 

Do you sometimes start the day with a flat stomach, only to feel like your waistband doesn’t fit later on in the day? Ever wondered why this happens and what you can do to stop it?

 

Bloating is common. About 15-30% of people experience it regularly. It comes from having difficulties digesting food. And the symptoms come from excess gas, reactions to specific foods, or food not moving through you as well as it could.

 

There are many reasons you might experience these symptoms. It could be from a serious condition, or from a food intolerance to a particular food. It can also result from how you eat.

 

First things first. If you have an uncomfortable digestive issue like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), then make sure you see your doctor to rule out anything more serious. And if you know certain foods give you gas, then avoid them.

 

If you’re already doing the above, and still experience bloating, here are some great tips for dealing with it naturally.

 

Avoid Overeating

 

 

If you overeat at a meal, then you’ll feel bigger around the mid-section. You’ll feel more pressure in your abdomen. Plus, you’re giving your digestive system a hard time. It’s better to eat until you feel almost full and not overindulge. Grab an extra snack or small meal throughout the day if you have to. Just don’t over-stuff yourself in one sitting.

 

Avoid Sugar Alcohols

 

Sugar alcohols are low-calorie sweeteners made from sugars. In an ingredients list, they end in “-ol,” and include things like sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol. They’re found in some chewing gums and sugar-free foods. Some people experience bloating after eating foods with these ingredients. This is because since sugar alcohols don’t get absorbed, they end up sitting in the GI tract. Try avoiding them and see if that helps you.

 

Don’t Swallow Air

 

 

Sometimes the gas that causes pressure in your digestive system is from swallowing air. Things like carbonated drinks are the biggest culprit. You can also swallow air when you chew gum or drink through a straw, so try ditching these.

 

You can also swallow air when eating too quickly or while talking. Which leads me to…

 

Eat Mindfully

 

Eating too fast doesn’t support good digestion. You can help the food move along by chewing it thoroughly and slowing down your eating habits. Be mindful and enjoy the time you are spending eating your meals. Savour your food so you actually remember eating it!

 

The feeling of stress can also cause increased bloating. Stress-reducing techniques can help improve your digestion. Try meditating or deep breathing before you eat. And read more tips on “how to eat” here.

 

Try peppermint

 

 

Peppermint oil has been shown to improve bloating. It’s thought to increase transit time by relaxing the stomach muscles and increasing the flow of bile. Try drinking peppermint tea to see if that helps reduce your symptoms. If that doesn’t work then diluted peppermint essential oil topically or supplements can help. Contact your healthcare provider or book a call with Bonnie here to discuss these options.

 

Bottom Line

 

There are a bunch of natural ways to deal with bloating.

 

First, avoid it by not eating things that give you gas or aggravate a digestive issue. Try not to overeat, consume sugar alcohols, or swallow air. Also, eating mindfully and reducing stress can help too. Finally, if you are experiencing bloating, enjoy a cup of peppermint tea.

 

If you do all of these, and still experience bloating, then you may have a food intolerance. If you have a major concern, then please see your doctor to rule out a more serious condition. If you think that food intolerance is the issue, book a call with Bonnie here to discuss.

Lift Your Mood with These 5 Foods

 

We all agree that what you eat can affect how you feel, right?

 

Our mental and brain health are complex. And how the foods we eat impact us is complex too. While we don’t know all the mechanisms of how food and nutrition create change in our bodies, we do know some ways that food and specific nutrients impact our moods.

 

  • What we eat becomes the raw materials for our neurotransmitters (the biochemical messengers that allow our nerve cells to communicate – serotonin for example). Neurotransmitters are important not just for thinking and memory, but also for mental health.
  • What we eat affects our blood sugar. And having unstable blood sugar levels can negatively contribute to mood swings.
  • Some nutrient deficiencies can present as mental health problems. This includes deficiencies in B-vitamins, vitamin D, and the mineral selenium.

 

So, getting enough nutrients and antioxidants are key. They reduce inflammation and fuel the biochemical reactions in our bodies including those that create neurotransmitters. In fact, studies show that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables are the happiest.

 

But let’s not get overwhelmed and try to change everything at once!! Start by including this list of 5 foods and avoiding the 3 below and observe the difference in how you feel.

 

5 Foods to Eat

 

 

  1. BRAZIL NUTS: Selenium is an essential mineral for mental health. It is found in high quantities in Brazil nuts, walnuts, cod, and poultry. Try to add some of those to your weekly diet.
  2. PROTEIN: This is your body’s main supply of amino acids. Amino acids help your mood because they are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Protein also helps to regulate blood sugar. I recommend eating protein with every meal; this includes dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, poultry, and meat.
  3. SWEET POTATO: Complex carbohydrates like sweet potato and quinoa are great. They allow better absorption of key amino acids like tryptophan. Tryptophan is used by your body to make serotonin (your “happy hormone”) and melatonin (your “sleepy” hormone). So, if you want to relax, try these in the evening.
  4. FISH: Fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids (nuts, seeds, and algae oil) are mood-boosting. Omega-3s are “brain food” and may help to ease some

 

NOTE: One study showed that giving one multi-vitamin and one omega-3 fish oil tablet per day to prison inmates reduced the incidence of violent behavior by 35%!

 

 

  1. WATER: Make sure you’re hydrated. Mild dehydration can cause mood issues as well.

 

3 Foods to Avoid

 

  1. PROCESSED FOODS: You won’t be surprised to hear me say processed foods are mood-busters, right? One study suggests that eating a lot of processed foods devoid of nutrients can increase your chances of becoming depressed by as much as 60 percent! And don’t forget, sugar as an ingredient is processed, messes with your blood sugar and can worsen inflammation.

 

“But I like to eat processed foods!”

 

Yes, some of these mood busters can make you feel better temporarily. Some big food companies study how to maximize the “pleasure” centers with the perfect amount of sugar, salt, and fat. Not to mention the color, texture, and taste; they can light up our taste buds and make us feel good… for now.

 

 

  1. ALCOHOL: It is a nervous system depressant
  2. CAFFEINE: This can worsen anxious feelings and ability to sleep

 

Bottom Line

 

The foods we eat are intertwined with our mood. Bad moods can lead to bad eating habits. And vice versa, bad eating habits can lead to bad moods. The same holds true for good moods and good eating habits. So, stick to minimally processed nutrient-dense whole foods and start yourself on a positive upswing. Things like fresh fruit and vegetables (including leafy greens), nuts and seeds, eggs, fish, poultry, and meat.

 

And avoid common mood-busting foods like alcohol, caffeine, and sugar. Those “feel good” junk foods, only make you feel good temporarily.

 

If you’re experiencing mood swings or irritability and are wondering if the foods you’re eating could be a factor, you may consider contacting a nutrition practitioner for help. Click here to book a free discovery call with Bonnie to discuss whether nutrition services could be right for you.

What Is the Keto Diet and Should I Try It?

 

The Ketogenic (Keto) Diet has recently gained a lot of popularity because of some of its health benefits. Many of you know people who have lost weight using this approach and have asked me for my thoughts, so here they are.

 

The Keto diet is a very low carb, very high-fat diet and it has been shown to help some people lose weight (yes, even with high fat!). It can also help improve certain health conditions, like epilepsy.

 

It is based on training your body to burn fat (through “ketosis”) instead of glucose.

 

What is “ketosis?”

 

Carbohydrates (sugars & starches) that break down to glucose are the preferred fuel for your brain and muscles. They will use glucose first, whenever it’s available. This is why maintaining stable blood sugar impacts your attention, mood, and energy level.

 

However, when glucose is not available for fuel, your body starts making compounds known as “ketones.” These are your body’s backup fuel made from fat. The term ketogenic actually means “the generation of ketones.”

 

After being on a low carbohydrate diet for a period of time, your blood level of ketones starts to increase. This is the metabolic state known as “ketosis.” It’s the depleted supply of glucose as fuel that’s the trigger for the body to turn fat into ketones for fuel instead.

 

NOTE: “Ketosis” from a ketogenic diet is not the same thing as the dangerous condition known as “ketoacidosis.”

 

Keto and Weight Loss

 

 

With a high fat intake, it may be surprising to know that studies show that a ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss.

 

For example, one study showed that people lost 2.2 times more weight on a ketogenic diet than those on low-fat or calorie-controlled diets. How is this possible?

 

One reason is that eating fat and protein is filling. It helps release satiety hormones that tell us that we’re full and satisfied, and we don’t need to eat anymore.

 

And by eating enough fat and protein to go into “ketosis,” you will likely feel fuller for longer so that you eat less food overall. And of course, this helps with weight loss.

 

Keto and Your Health

 

 

Some studies show other health benefits of the ketogenic diet.

 

Changing your metabolism can have health effects that are beneficial for some people.

 

Keto Basics

 

 

Not everyone should go on a keto diet. Make sure you speak with a trained healthcare practitioner before you try it. It can have side effects, including the infamous “keto flu.”

 

The traditional keto diet is restrictive and can be difficult to stay on for a long period of time. It involves eating macronutrients in the following proportions:

  • 60-75% of your calories from fat,
  • 20-35% from protein, and
  • 5% from carbs.

 

The foods to focus on for a ketogenic diet are meat, fatty fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, avocados, and low-carb vegetables (e.g. cucumber, celery, peppers, zucchini, leafy greens, etc.).

 

The main thing to avoid are foods that are high in carbs. These include sugary foods and desserts, grains, fruit, legumes, starchy vegetables, and alcohol.

 

Keto Concerns

 

Using any kind of restrictive diet has limitations and can be done in an unhealthy way. For the keto diet, because of the limits placed on carbohydrates such as fruit and vegetables, many people lack adequate amounts of fiber and micronutrients and some experience other unwanted side effects. And, the keto diet can be hard to adhere to long-term.

 

Due to these concerns, my preferred nutrition plan includes a modified form of these principles that is much easier to sustain with a delicious variety of foods and similar long-term benefits. This is what I teach in my Finding Foodease Program.

 

 

>>>>>>>>>Click here to learn more about the Finding Foodease Program and gain access to earlybird pricing.

 

Bottom Line

 

The ketogenic diet is very popular since it can be helpful for weight loss, and other health conditions.

 

It’s not for everyone and can result in missing important nutrients in your diet. So, make sure you check with a knowledgeable practitioner to help you before you begin.

 

Do you want a FREE 20-minute consult to help? Book your call with Bonnie here.

Bring Fun Back to the Kitchen

 

If you don’t love cooking, maybe I can help to make it more fun for you?

 

I know that sometimes I don’t find cooking to be all that fun. I definitely don’t like to slave in the kitchen for hours. And I can get into a rut just like everyone else.

 

So that’s why I’ve listed my best “fun” cooking tips for you.

 

Check out new recipes

 

 

This one is my favourite! Sometimes just seeing the beautiful food photos and reading the recipe can spark some inspiration and fun in your kitchen.

 

You can head to your local bookstore. Or look up your favourite nutritionists, chefs, bakers, and other online foodies. Maybe do a quick search on Google or Pinterest to see thousands of new ideas.

 

Check out my Pinterest full of tasty recipes that I’ve curated from around the internet (plus a few of my own): https://www.pinterest.ca/bonnieflemingto/

 

Perhaps you have some ingredients in your fridge that are just waiting to be eaten.

 

TIP: Searching through recipes can be so fun and inspiring, that you end up spending way longer than planned. So, consider setting your timer when you start browsing. The last thing you want is to take so much time looking, that you don’t leave enough time for cooking.

 

Make grocery shopping fun and inspiring

 

 

When you’re at the grocery store, try something that you haven’t had in a while. Is there a seasonal fruit or vegetable you haven’t had for months? What about a childhood favourite? Did you come across something totally delicious at a restaurant or get-together lately?

 

Or, browse around the store looking for something you haven’t had before; something that is completely new to you. Be adventurous and fun. Then you can go home and find new and inspiring recipes when you get home.

 

Keep it simple!

 

Sometimes when I see a great food picture, I immediately get inspired to make it. But if I look at the ingredients or instructions and they’re too long or complicated, I stop. I need to keep things simple.

 

A few ways to keep things simple are to:

  • Search for recipes with 10 or fewer ingredients, and five or fewer instructions;
  • Search for recipes that can be made in one pot or pan;
  • Buy ingredients that are ready to cook with (pre-washed salad greens, diced squashes, frozen vegetables, etc.)

 

Put on some music and invite someone to join you.

 

 

Do you have kids that need to learn the critical life skill of cooking? Perhaps your partner would love to join you? What about having a “cooking party” where everyone brings something and pitches in on the process?

 

Invest in some kitchen swag!

 

 

Having proper kitchen tools makes cooking so much easier and faster. When’s the last time you sharpened your (or bought yourself a new) knife? Could dicing carrots with a dull knife be draining the fun from cooking? Or is blending a smoothie with a crummy blender, leaving it too chunky to enjoy, making you feel less excited to try new smoothie recipes? I know it does for me.

 

Here are some of the kitchen tools I own and use the most. (affiliate links)

Vitamix Blender

KitchenAid Food Processor

ActiFry

Instant Pot

Good Grips Citrus Juicer

 

Bottom Line

 

You know that cooking is the key to healthy eating. And, yes, it does get boring from time to time, when you’re doing it day after day. Try one (or all) of my fun cooking tips to inspire you to get over to your kitchen and cook yourself some great dishes.

 

And, if you’re looking for 4 weeks of tasty, easy to prepare, healthy recipes along with support, nutrition learning and encouragement (and live calls with Bonnie!), check out the Finding Foodease program.

>>>>>>>>> Click here to learn more about Finding Foodease

 

And contact Bonnie here if you would like to book a FREE discovery call at any time!

How Do I Stop Eating Too Much?

 

Have you ever told yourself that you don’t have enough willpower or you just love food too much? You’re not alone!

 

There are many reasons why you frequently feel hungry. The most obvious one is that you are actually physically hungry! Perhaps your stomach is empty, your blood sugar has dropped, and your hunger hormones are having a party.

 

But then at other times, the hunger may not be actual physical hunger. It may be a craving or an emotional trigger. These are common reasons why some people eat too much. It could be brought on by a certain type of diet, stress, or other things going on in life.

 

It’s easy to mistake “psychological” hunger for “physical” hunger.

 

I’m going to talk about the difference between both, and give you some tips on how to figure out which is which.

 

Physical vs Psychological

 

Your “physical” hunger is regulated by your body through your hunger hormones. You’re programmed to seek food when your body physically needs it. Some of those physical needs are that your stomach is empty or your blood sugar has dropped.

 

“Psychological” or “emotional” hunger is eating to overcome boredom, sadness, stress, etc. It’s connected to a thought or feeling. It’s what happens when you see a great food commercial or smell a bakery and suddenly want to eat. It’s not from your empty stomach or low blood sugar.

 

Here is a 5-step process to figure out what’s going on

 

 

STEP 1 – STOP and evaluate. Scarfing down that protein bar at the first sign of hunger isn’t necessarily going to help you.

 

STEP 2 – Pay attention to where this hunger is coming from. Can you actually feel or hear your stomach growling? Did you skip a meal, and haven’t eaten in hours? Or are you seeing and smelling something divinely delicious? Perhaps you’re bored, sad, or stressed? Pay attention to what you’re feeling and what’s going on.

 

 

STEP 3 – Have a big glass of water. Observe your hunger feeling for at least a minute. Really dig into the source of the feeling. It can be easy to jump to a conclusion but listen to your body and mind very deeply.

 

STEP 4 – Acknowledge your feelings. This is the hard part. If your feelings are the source, face them. Acknowledge and observe them. They need comfort and recognition, even if it’s easier just to give them food. Try deep breathing, having a stretch, or going for a quick walk to release some of these emotions; this also gives your mind a chance to focus on something other than the feeling of hunger.

 

 

STEP 5 – Give yourself time. If you haven’t had food in 3+ hours, it’s mealtime, and you’re pretty sure that your body physically needs nutrition, just wait a few more minutes to make sure.

 

Now you can be fairly sure whether your hunger was from emotions, boredom, thirst, or actual physical hunger. If it’s physical hunger, feel free to eat healthy and nutritious food. To fill you up the food you eat should be high in healthy fats, protein, fibre, and water.

 

Eat slowly and mindfully. Chew well and savour every bite of it. To read more on “how” to eat click here.

 

Rinse and repeat these 5 steps at the next sign of hunger.

 

Bottom Line

 

The feeling of hunger can manifest for many reasons. If you’re physically hungry and need the food and nutrients, then this is what it’s for! But often, there is an underlying psychological or emotional reason you might feel hungry.

 

Follow the 5 steps above to figure out if your physical body is hungry, or if you’re bored, sad, or stressed.

 

Use this process over and over again to feed your body what it actually needs. Sometimes it’s food, but often it’s some self-love and compassion.

 

Do you need more strategies and accountability to get your eating on track? Book a free 20-minute discovery session with Bonnie here.