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.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load: What’s the Difference?

 

The term “glycemic” means that these concepts have to do with glucose (i.e. sugars and carbs).

 

But it’s not only about how much sugar is in foods. More importantly, it’s about how those foods affect your blood sugar levels.

 

In general, diets that are high on the glycemic index (GI) and high in glycemic load (GL), will increase your risk of many chronic conditions including diabetes and heart disease.

 

DID YOU KNOW? Starches like those in potatoes and grains are digested into sugar. This is because starch is just a bunch of sugars linked together. Digestive enzymes break those links and then those sugars affect your body the same way that eating sugary foods do.

 

 

Glycemic Index (GI)

 

The GI measures how fast a food increases your blood sugar. It compares the effect that different foods have on your blood sugar level.

 

Each food is given a score from 0 to 100 on how it affects blood sugar compared with glucose. Foods that cause a fast increase in blood sugar have a high GI number. That is because the sugar in them is quickly processed by your digestive system and absorbed into your blood. They create what’s called a “spike” in your blood sugar.

 

For example, pure glucose is given a GI rating of 100, but chickpeas have a GI of 28. For perspective, the general guideline is that anything 55 and under is low; moderate is 56-69, and 70+ is considered a high GI food.

 

 

Remember, this is a measure of how fast a carbohydrate-containing food is digested and raised your blood sugar. It’s not a measure of the sugar content of the food.

 

How the carbohydrates in food affect your blood sugar level depend on other components of the food. Things like fats, fiber, and protein can slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream, and this can make even a high-sugar food fall on the low end of the GI scale.

 

So, lower GI foods are better at keeping your blood sugar levels stable because they don’t increase your blood sugar level as fast.

 

FUN FACT: Can you guess which food has a GI of higher than 100? White potatoes! A baked Russet potato has a GI of 111.

 

 

Glycemic Load (GL)

 

The GL is different. It doesn’t consider how quickly your blood sugar “spikes”, but it looks at how high that spike is. Basically, how much the food increases your blood sugar.

 

GL depends on two things. First, how much sugar is actually in the food. Second, the serving size of the food that is typically eaten. A low GL would be 0-10, moderate GL would be 10-20, and high GL would 20+.

 

Let’s compare an average serving of watermelon and doughnuts:

 

Food GI Serving size GL per serving
Watermelon 76 1 cup 8
Doughnut 76 1 medium 17

 

As you can see, the doughnut and watermelon increase your blood sugar at the same rate, but the doughnut raises it more than twice as much as the watermelon.

 

This helps us realize that we can’t rely on the GI alone, but need to look at the GL as well. The GL tells us that the doughnut contains 2x more sugar than the same amount of watermelon.

 

 

What does this mean for your health?

 

Certain people should be focused on the effects that foods have on their blood sugar. For example, if you have diabetes or insulin resistance you need to be aware of the GI and GL of foods you are eating regularly.

 

And the GI and GL are just two factors to consider when it comes to blood sugar. Some high GI foods are good for you, so what happens there? In order to reduce the impact on your blood sugar, you need to combine a high GI food with one that contains healthy fats, fiber or protein to keep your blood sugar even.

 

Interested in a blood sugar balancing recipe book full of easy, delicious recipes to help you get started?

>>>>>>>> Sign up to receive your FREE Blood Sugar Balancing 20-minute Dinners Recipe Book here

 

 

Bottom Line

 

If you have or are at risk of diabetes or heart disease, you should try swapping out some higher GI/GL foods for lower ones.

 

If you would like some guidance to help you navigate this process, please book a FREE call with Bonnie by clicking here.

4 Ways Stress Impacts Your Health

 

Everyone experiences stress. Sometimes it’s temporary (acute), and sometimes it’s long-term (chronic).

 

Acute stress usually won’t mess with your health too much. It is your body’s natural reaction to a potential threat. Then, when the “threat” (or stressor) is gone, the reaction subsides, and all is well.

 

It’s the chronic stress that’s a problem. In other words, it’s when these stress reactions are triggered every day or many times a day, that it starts to mess with your health. And since so many of us feel stressed on a regular basis, we have started to normalize it rather than prioritizing taking action to manage it to that happy medium.

 

Stress (and stress hormones) can have a huge impact on your health. So, making stress reduction a priority is key. Read on to learn more about the health effects of stress as well as stress-busting tips you can implement today.

 

Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes

 

 

Why save the best for last? Anything that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes (both serious, chronic conditions) needs to be discussed front and center.

 

Stress increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes by promoting chronic inflammation, affecting your blood “thickness,” as well as impacting how well your cells respond to insulin.

 

Get some help on managing blood sugar right away by downloading my free 20-minute blood sugar balancing dinners recipe book. These are easy-to-make and delicious meals that the whole family will love.

>>>>>>>>>Download the meal plan here

 

Reduced Immunity

 

 

Did you notice that you get sick more often when you’re stressed? Maybe you get colds, cold sores, or even the flu more frequently when you are stressed?

 

Well, that’s because stress hormones affect the chemical messengers (cytokines) secreted by immune cells. Consequently, they are less able to do their jobs effectively.

 

 

“Leaky Gut.”

 

 

The stress hormone, cortisol, can contribute to leaky gut, otherwise known as “intestinal permeability.” Excess cortisol causes the tight junctions between the cells in your digestive lining to loosen, creating tiny holes. These “leaks” can allow partially digested food, bacteria or other things to be absorbed into your body.

 

Picture this: Have you ever played “red rover?” It’s where a row of children hold hands while one runs at them to try to break through. Think of those hands as the junctions between cells. When they get loose, they allow things to get in that should be passing right through. Cortisol (produced in excess in chronic stress) is a strong player in red rover!

 

 

Sleep Disruption

 

 

Stress and sleep go hand-in-hand, wouldn’t you agree? It’s often difficult to sleep when you have very important (and stressful) things on your mind.

 

And when you don’t get enough sleep, it affects your energy level, memory, ability to think, and mood.

 

More and more research is showing just how important sleep is for your health. Not enough sleep (and too much stress) aren’t doing you any favours.

 

 

Stress-Busting Tips

 

 

Reducing stressors in your life is an obvious first step. Can you:

 

  • Put less pressure on yourself?
  • Ask for help?
  • Say “no”?
  • Delegate to someone else?
  • Finally, make that decision?

 

No matter how hard you try, you won’t eliminate stress altogether. So, here are a few things you can try to help reduce its effect on you:

 

 

Bottom Line

 

Stress is a huge and often underappreciated factor in our health. It can impact your physical body much more than you might realize.

 

Stress has been shown to increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes, affect your immune system, digestion and sleep.

 

There are things you can do to both reduce stressors and also to improve your response to it. You can do it!

Stress and My Adrenals: What Can I Do?

 

Stressed? Tired? Craving sugar? Can’t sleep?

 

All of these can be related to the constant stress we feel in our lives. We know that stress can have a huge impact on our health and wellness. And, since your adrenal glands produce stress hormones, adrenal fatigue (or “HPA Axis Dysregulation,”) is something you may have heard of.

 

Your adrenal glands look like walnuts and are situated above both of your kidneys. These important glands produce many hormones, including stress hormones that are key to our ability to function and adapt to our surroundings.

 

Adrenaline and cortisol are the stress hormones that give you that adrenaline rush; when you’re totally alert and living in the moment. This feeling is known as your body’s “fight or flight” response and is your body’s normal reaction to stress.

 

Stress: The Good

 

 

Stress can sometimes be positive, like when it helps you swerve and prevent a crash. After a short time, the fight or flight response dissipates, your body goes back to normal, and all is good.

 

And some people love that intense “rush” feeling!

 

Stress: The Bad

 

 

But what would happen if you felt constant stress? All day, every day? Like chronic stress? It would no longer feel like that awesome “rush,” anymore would it?

 

And what do you think happens to your poor adrenal glands when they’re constantly working? …. they get fatigued.

 

How do I know if my adrenals are overworked?

 

Your adrenal glands can start to get tired of secreting a large number of stress hormones.

 

You may begin to experience symptoms like fatigue, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, weight loss or gain, joint pain, or sugar cravings. Even frequent infections like colds and the flu are signs that your adrenals are overworked.

 

Unfortunately, there aren’t medically accepted blood tests for adrenal fatigue. And it’s not recognized by most medical professionals until your adrenals are so fatigued they almost stop working. At this point, a diagnosis of “Adrenal Insufficiency” or “Addison’s Disease” may apply.

 

Luckily this is rare, but if you do have symptoms, you should see your doctor to rule out these or other conditions. Your doctor may even be open to discussing adrenal fatigue, or at the very least, wellness strategies that can help to reduce your stress (and symptoms).

 

What to do if I have these symptoms?

 

 

There are many actions you can take to reduce your stress and improve your health and energy levels.

 

If you think stress is starting to burn you out, stress reduction is key. There are tons of ideas about how you can reduce your stress. My favourites are meditation, walking in nature, light exercise, more sleep, or taking a bath.

 

I also recommend reducing sugar and processed food intake and eating more fruits and vegetables. Better nutrition can help reduce stress and poor nutrition can cause an added stress. Supplements in the form of adaptogens can also be helpful.

 

Managing blood sugar is one of the most important diet changes you can make. Do you want some free blood sugar balancing dinner ideas to get you started? Check out my FREE recipe book with some delicious options that take 20 minutes or less to prepare:

>>>>>>>>>Download the 20-minute Blood Sugar Balancing dinner ebook here.

 

Bottom Line

 

Your adrenal glands produce hormones in response to stress. After long-term daily stress, they may get tired.

 

Adrenal fatigue is a controversial disease because it doesn’t have a true diagnostic test, nor specific telltale symptoms. However, it is important to get tested to rule out other potential conditions.

 

You can also improve your diet and try stress reduction techniques like meditation, walks in nature, light exercise, more sleep, or a relaxing bath.

 

If you are still confused and are looking for some guidance on where to start, please book a free discovery call with me here to learn more about I can help you.

Important Nutrients as We Age

 

Aging isn’t an illness, and we should not assume that pain and disease are an inevitable part of it. However, as we age, the needs of our body changes as well.

 

As we age, many of us start to experience negative health symptoms. It’s important that we listen to those symptoms as it’s our body’s way of sending us a message that a change needs to be made.

 

Many of these symptoms have to do with nutrient deficiencies. Why?

 

This is because as we age, our bodies don’t absorb the nutrients from our food as well as we once did. Our systems begin to slow down and become less efficient. Making sure our bodies can utilize the correct amount of nutrients becomes very important for cellular repair so that we can look and feel our best.

 

I always recommend getting as much of your nutrient needs from foods as possible. However, in reality, this is very difficult.

 

Some of the reasons for this include:

  • Reduced soil quality has resulted in fewer nutrients in our food ingredients.
  • High stress levels create a higher demand for nutrients.
  • High levels of toxins in our environment mean that our body requires additional nutrients to help with detoxification.
  • Medications that we take and those in our food supply (e.g. antibiotics) has created imbalances in our gut microbiome that has compromised our ability to absorb nutrients from our food.

 

The following list is a selection of nutrients that are important as we age. You won’t need all of them as a supplement. Please remember that supplements are meant to supplement (not replace) an already healthy diet.

 

Also, everyone’s symptoms and needs are different and require a different balance of nutrients. Some supplements can interact with prescribed medications. For these reasons, you should consult with your healthcare practitioner before adding any supplementation to your diet.

 

Digestive Support

 

 

I have put digestive support at the top of the list because the root cause of many conditions is traced to poor digestive health. Digestion can be improved by taking bitters and digestive enzymes to help with the adequate breakdown of food. Probiotics are also beneficial to help improve your gut microbiome.

 

Antioxidants

 

 

Antioxidants are important as they perform important functions in the body. For example, alpha-lipoic-acid can help with diabetes and liver function. Vitamin C is a powerful immune enhancer and vitamin E fights cellular aging by protecting the cell membrane. Vitamin E also improves circulation.

 

Heart Healthy

 

 

In addition to vitamin E, there are a number of important nutrients for the heart. Coenzyme Q10 aids circulation and is heart protective. As we age, we tend to have 50% less CoQ10 than our younger selves. Omega 3 essential fatty acids protect the heart and keep plaque from adhering to arteries. Magnesium is another important nutrient for the heart as higher plasma magnesium levels are associated with lower heart disease risk.

 

Brain Function

 

 

Omega 3’s mentioned above are also essential for proper brain function. And B vitamins are necessary for the formation of certain proteins for proper cognitive functioning. The B vitamins are also well known to help us produce energy from the macronutrients we are consuming. And, keeping digestion optimized is important for the brain given the connection between the gut and brain health (see digestive section above and the link here).

 

Bone Support

 

 

Bone health is something that many of us start to think about as we age. Lifestyle factors (such as weight-bearing exercise) are important. There are also some specific nutrients that work together with calcium to better support our bone health. For instance, vitamin D enhances calcium absorption and bone formation and magnesium is needed to balance with calcium for proper muscle and heart function.

 

Anti-Aging

 

 

Grape seed extract is a powerful free radical scavenger and is shown to be beneficial for a number of age-related health conditions. N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is an important glutathione precursor, which is a powerful antioxidant and detoxifier. It also enhances brain function and mood.

 

This is just a selection of useful nutrients in aging. Depending on your symptoms, other nutrients may be relevant for you.

 

Bottom Line

 

Nutrients in the form of supplements can be helpful for the management of certain symptoms but are not a replacement for a healthy diet and lifestyle. Also, it’s important to remember that many of our symptoms took years to develop and it usually takes some time to resolve them as well. So, taking a therapeutic amount of a particular nutrient for a sufficient length of time is often necessary to see results.

 

Not sure which nutrients are right for you? Please book a free call with Bonnie here to learn more about what working together would look like and determine if it is right for you.

Are Smoothies Healthy?

 

As we have become more conscious of our health and adding more fruits and vegetables to our diet, smoothies have become more popular. In fact, I just read that June 21 (the first day of summer) is named National Smoothie Day!

 

Combine this with our busy lifestyle and the desire to have our food more portable, it is now common to see someone carrying around a smoothie of some kind.

 

Smoothies are marketed as a health food and entire franchise businesses have been built on this one product alone! But have you spent some time looking at the nutritional value of your smoothie?

 

Are they actually healthy? Generally, they’re not as healthy as you think.

 

This is true both because of the ingredients in them and because of how they are usually consumed.

 

Smoothies are High in Sugar

 

 

Did you know that the average Canadian consumes an average of 88 pounds of sugar each year? That’s about 20% of calories consumed. And male teens consume even more at 138 pounds per year.

 

Compare that to the World Health Organization’s recommendation that we limit our sugar consumption to 5-10% of calories. Ten percent of calories for an average 2,000 calorie diet works out to about 50g per day or 12.5 teaspoons. This is not a target, this is the upper limit. And the average Canadian is consuming more than double this amount!

 

Our smoothie consumption is not helping. Most commercial smoothies contain a large amount of sugar in just one serving. Here is a list of the grams of sugar in some of the popular smoothies commercially available (note that serving sizes may not be equal). Some of these exceed the grams of sugar we should be consuming in an entire day!

Booster Juice – The Original snack size – 34g

Jugo Juice – Berry Banana Original – 51g

Jamba Juice – Strawberries Gone Bananas – 30g

Orange Julius – Strawberry Banana small – 65g

Freshii – Strawberry Banana Smoothie – 39g

 

 

But aren’t smoothies made of real fruit and that’s good for us, you ask? Yes, real, fresh fruit is healthy, but not in this large a quantity. And when you use a smoothie to replace an entire meal, you are missing out on other important macronutrients such as proteins and healthy fats.

 

When your meal is primarily high sugar carbohydrates without the addition of protein and fat, you are sending your body on a blood sugar roller coaster. This leads to crashes in energy, weight gain, increased inflammation and an increased risk of a host of other chronic conditions.

 

Drinking our Food Leads to Overconsumption

 

When we have a meal in liquid form, we tend to consume it faster, feel less satiated and are therefore at risk of overconsumption. This study revealed just that.

 

And overall, our food has become more portable than ever! With drive-throughs, take-out and sandwiches/wraps we can carry around with us, more of our meals are being eaten on-the-go than ever before.

 

 

When we eat in this way, we are not very focused on what we are eating. This is what is called mindless eating and can lead to increased risk of digestive difficulties, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

 

For some more information on “how” to eat (and details on why) check out my posts here and here.

 

In addition to the physical health implications of gulping down our food, we are missing out on the importance of the social experience by not sitting down and sharing our meals with family, friends or co-workers. This is extremely important for our emotional health. In this post, I discuss the importance of nurturing positive social connections on our physical and mental health.

 

Bottom Line

 

Most store-bought smoothies are high in sugar and missing important nutrients that help to manage blood sugar such as protein and fat. Also, “drinking” our meals often leads to overconsumption. Both of these contribute to weight gain and other negative health symptoms.

 

 

There is some good news! You can make your own smoothie so that you can ensure it contains a balance of nutrients. Also, you can eat it as a “smoothie bowl” with a spoon. This will help slow down consumption so that you are less likely to overeat.

 

Here are some recipes for you to try out. Warning, they are not overly sweet. If you need to add a bit more fruit at first, that’s OK. Your taste buds will adjust and be satisfied with less sweet with reduced sugar consumption over time. Remember that making them thicker (by reducing the amount of liquid) and enjoying them in a bowl will help slow down consumption.

Supergreen Breakfast Smoothie

Blissful Blueberry Smoothie

Strawberry Beet Smoothie

If you would like some complimentary dinner recipes that will help to keep your blood sugar balanced to help you manage your weight, energy, and inflammation, click here for access to my FREE recipe book.

What’s Blood Sugar Got To Do With It?

 

Do you only think that blood sugar matters if you have been diagnosed with diabetes or metabolic syndrome??

 

Well, it actually matters to everyone, not just those with diabetes or inflammation. For example, do you struggle to maintain a healthy weight? Are you eating healthy and exercising, but still don’t have the energy you need to get things done? Then you’ll want to read on to learn more.

 

What is Blood Sugar?

 

Blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. And you need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles.

 

The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot.

 

Your body works to balance it between things that increase it; and things that decrease it. When you eat food with sugars or starches (“carbs”), then your digestive system absorbs sugar into your blood.

 

When carbs are ingested and broken down into simple sugars, your body then keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin takes excess sugar out of your bloodstream and puts it into your muscle cells and other tissues for energy (or for storage if your body doesn’t need it right away).

 

Why Does Blood Sugar Level Matter?

 

Your body aims to keep your blood sugar at an optimal level. High enough, so you’re not light-headed, fatigued, and irritable and low enough that your body doesn’t require excess insulin to remove sugar from the blood.

 

Prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar levels can lead to “insulin resistance.” This is when your cells are so tired of responding to insulin that they start ignoring (or resisting) it. In the long term, this ultimately this leads to diabetes.

 

 

What does all this have to do with weight loss and energy levels?

 

Well, when you eat excess sugars or refined starches, your blood sugar rises too much. The result is that your body overreacts with insulin. This causes the subsequent crash in energy (causing fatigue) and cravings (making weight loss challenging).

 

In this case, your cells aren’t getting the glucose they need at the rate they need it to sustain your hunger and keep up your energy levels. So, let’s look at nutrition and lifestyle factors that will help to keep your blood sugar stable so that you can achieve your goals.

 

Nutrition recommendations

 

 

REDUCE REFINED SUGARS AND STARCHES that you eat. You can start by eliminating sweet drinks and having smaller portions of dessert.

 

INCREASE FIBER to help slow the pace of sugar being absorbed from your meal (i.e. reduce the “spike” in your blood sugar). Fiber is found in plant-based foods (as long as they are eaten in their natural state since food processing removes fiber).  Eating nuts, seeds, and whole fruits and veggies (not juiced) is a great way to increase your fiber intake.

 

CINNAMON has been shown to help cells increase insulin sensitivity. Not to mention it’s a delicious spice that can be used in place of sugar.

 

Want some inspiration? Sign up to receive my blood sugar balancing dinners recipe book here.

 

 

Lifestyle recommendations

 

EXERCISE also helps to improve your insulin sensitivity; this means that your cells don’t ignore insulin’s call to get excess sugar out of the blood.  Not to mention, when you exercise, your muscles are using up that sugar they absorbed from your blood.

 

MANAGE STRESS because it also affects your blood sugar levels. If you think about the “fight or flight” stress response, what fuel do your brain and muscles need to “fight” or “flee”? Sugar! When you are stressed, your body uses cortisol to release stored forms of sugar back into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar levels. This can lead to a similar spike and crash in blood sugar as eating refined starches causes! Simple tips to manage stress are meditation, deep breathing, or gentle movement.

 

GET ADEQUATE SLEEP since it goes hand-in-hand with stress. If you don’t get enough quality sleep, you tend to release stress hormones, have a higher appetite, and even get sugar cravings. Sleep is a crucial, often overlooked, factor when it comes to keeping your blood sugar stable. Make sleep more of a priority – it will do your blood sugar (and the rest of your physical and mental health) good.

 

 

Bottom Line

 

Your body is on a constant 24-hour quest to keep your blood sugar stable. The body has mechanisms in place to do this, but those mechanisms can get tired (resistant).  Long-term blood sugar issues can spell trouble.

 

There are many nutrition and lifestyle factors you can use to help keep your blood sugar stable. Minimizing excessive carbs, eating more fiber, exercising, reducing stress, and improving sleep are all key to having stable blood sugar (and achieving your goals).

 

Not sure where to begin? That’s perfectly normal! Click here to book a FREE discovery call with Bonnie to learn more about how you can get the help you need.

Is Paleo Right For You?

 

There is a lot of hype about the “paleo” diet. It was the world’s most popular diet in 2013.

 

But there is also a lot of confusion about what it is. What can you eat or not eat? Are there any health benefits? Is it a fad? Is it right for you?

 

Just to be clear, I don’t label myself to be on any particular “diet”. But I think it can be useful to look at some different options available to see if all of some aspects of it are appropriate for you and your goals.

 

What is Paleo?

 

As background, the name “paleo” is from the “paleolithic” time when earlier humans (thousands of years ago) were hunters and gatherers. It is thought to represent the era of nutrition before agriculture.

 

The main principles of the diet are to:

  1. Eat lean animal protein
  2. Eat a large variety of fruits and vegetables
  3. Get a large portion of fiber from non-starchy fruits and vegetables
  4. Eat a moderate amount of mono and polyunsaturated fats relative to saturated, with an equal amount of omega 3 and 6
  5. Eat foods with a high potassium content and low sodium content (i.e. fruits and vegetables)
  6. Eat a diet with a net alkaline load (i.e. lots of fruits and vegetables)
  7. Eat foods rich in plant phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (i.e. fruits and vegetables)

 

Did you notice how much emphasis is on fruits and vegetables?? A lot considering the paleo diet has a reputation is that it’s all about the meat.

 

What Can I Eat on a Strict Paleo Diet?

 

The paleo diet was created to increase the amount of whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods; while reducing the number of refined, gut-disrupting, hormone-disrupting, and inflammatory foods.

 

And there is actually a pretty wide variety of food to choose from in the paleo diet.

 

You can include fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat (including organ meats), seafood, healthy fats, fermented foods, herbs, and spices.

 

 

The paleo diet excludes processed and refined foods (e.g. sugar, vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, etc.), grains (e.g. wheat, oats, rice, etc.), dairy, and legumes (e.g. beans, lentils, peanuts, etc.).

 

Is there a Modified Paleo Option?

 

Of course! You can take any “diet” available and make it your own to suit your own bio-individuality. The paleo diet can be thought of as more of a “template,” rather than a strict set of rules.

 

Either strict or modified paleo is an eating style that can be easy to maintain, and with little to no negative side effects. There is no measuring or counting of calories or carbs. And there are plenty of delicious and nutritious foods to choose from.

 

Many proponents of the paleo diet even encourage experimentation by adding a few of the (healthy whole) foods on their list of exclusions. High-quality dairy, quinoa, or legumes may be added in moderate portions to less restrictive forms of the paleo diet.

 

Does the Paleo Diet Have Proven Health Benefits?

 

Several clinical studies have been done to find out whether there are health benefits of eating this way.

 

Some of the research has shown that the paleo diet can help with weight loss and belly fat. That alone may be reason enough to give it a try.

 

It can also have a positive on several chronic diseases. For example, it can improve risk factors for heart disease. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation, improve glucose tolerance, and even reduce symptoms of some autoimmune diseases.

 

It’s also thought to be “gut-friendly” because it includes a lot of high-fiber foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds), fermented foods (which contain gut-friendly probiotics), as well as being full of nutritious whole foods.

 

 

Who Should Consider a Paleo Diet?

 

Some people recommend the paleo diet for those with autoimmune diseases. And those at high risk for heart disease or diabetes may also be good candidates to give the paleo diet a try.

 

If you react to gluten or lactose, this diet removes them both by eliminating all grains and dairy.

 

Even if you don’t choose to go paleo, the elimination of added sugars, processed and refined foods should be a goal to move toward.

 

Bottom Line

 

The paleo diet is based on what hunters and gatherers ate thousands of years ago. It is a whole-food based, nutrient-dense diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat, seafood, and fermented foods.

 

Science has shown that it can help some people to lose weight, reduce risks of heart disease, improve glucose tolerance, and reduce inflammation.

 

At the very least, eliminating added sugars, processed, and refined foods are a great goal, even if you decide not to “go paleo.”

 

Not sure what diet is right for you or how to get started? Book a free discovery call with Bonnie here.