Realistic Tips for Healthy Holiday Parties

 

I hear from a lot of my clients how they feel that they don’t have the willpower to make the right choices during the holidays. Often, they tell stories about being so busy during the day that they end up not eating, and then they are starving at the holiday party and overeat everything in sight.

 

One of the biggest lessons that I have learned in coaching about nutrition is that deprivation is a recipe for overeating later. The idea about “saving” your appetite so you can let loose later definitely doesn’t work. We need a different strategy.

 

Here are my 3 top tips that work and are also easy to do…

 

Stay Hydrated

 

 

Stay well hydrated during the day. And then also, have a glass of water along with anything else that you are drinking in the evening. Being properly hydrated promotes good digestion, optimal energy, encourages metabolism and regulates appetite.

 

Alcohol, on the other hand, increases appetite and diminishes your ability to control what you eat. This doesn’t mean you can’t have any on a special occasion, just be mindful about quantity and alternate between alcohol and water.

 

Choose Health Promoting Foods

 

 

The foods you choose either help or hinder your health goals. And when you’re starving, it’s hard to make well thought out choices. The goal is to eat delicious foods that also make you feel great.

 

When you are heading out to a holiday party a great tip is to have a healthy snack before going. Really. I know this seems backward, but it really works. When you arrive at a party and aren’t starving, you make better choices.

 

And you can offer to bring something healthful that you love, so you know it will be an option. If there’s a buffet table full of unhealthy foods, I recommend that you stand on the opposite side of the room to reduce temptation.

 

Also, make your intentions of the event on the social aspect, including fun conversation and making connections, to take the focus off the food.

 

Eat Mindfully

 

 

Your attitude towards food can impact your ability to metabolize, absorb nutrients and feel satiated by it. So, mindset is one of the top keys to making healthy choices a habit. Here are 3 strategies to try…

 

  • Relax by taking deep breaths before and during eating.
  • Chew slowly.
  • Pay attention to what you’re eating so that you can enjoy it. (The enjoyment of your food is one of the factors in helping to regulate your appetite. If you can’t remember eating it, you lose that mechanism of satiation, so savour it.)

 

Finally, if you choose to eat a less healthy option, keep a positive mindset about it so that maximize any benefits it has for you without trying to digest guilt along with the food.

 

Bottom Line

 

Keep your story positive. If you keep telling yourself that you “always overeat at parties” or you “don’t have willpower” then these beliefs are more likely to manifest.

 

Replace these thoughts with phrases like “My relationship with food is positive” or “I make positive choices about my health” so that you can start living that way.

 

By staying hydrated, choosing health-promoting foods and doing so in a positive, mindful manner, it’s hard to go wrong. Do you want to join my community full of some of the most positive, supportive and fun people that I know? Click here to request to join us so that we can help to bring a lift into your day.

More Benefits of Exercise

 

…Exercise is the most potent, yet underutilized antidepressant. – Bill Phillips

 

Regular exercise improves your heart health, brain health, muscle and bone health, diabetes, and arthritis. It also reduces stress, boosts moods, increases your energy, and can improve your sleep. And these lifestyle-related, chronic conditions are on the rise.

 

I’ve written on this topic before here, but it’s so important that it’s worth saying again. Convinced? If so,

>>>>>>Register for the free get moving challenge!

 

More importantly, body movement is what the body was naturally meant to do. We aren’t meant to sit for hours on end in a car/plane/train or at a desk. So, let’s get motivated and make it simple to do. You don’t need to go overboard on exercise to get these amazing health results. As little as 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days/week is enough.

 

And you don’t have to do a particular kind of exercise. Here are some examples of different exercises that focus on different functions of your body:

  • Endurance – brisk walking, jogging, yard work, dancing, aerobics, cycling, swimming.
  • Strength – carrying groceries, lifting weights, exercises using your body weight, Pilates.
  • Balance – standing on one-foot, Tai Chi.
  • Flexibility – stretching, yoga.

 

 

All exercise counts, even if you’re not participating in a sport or going to the gym. Weekend hikes, walking to the store and doing household chores also counts. Ever notice that you get hot and sweaty doing these sorts of everyday activities?

 

Specific health benefits of exercise come from improving blood flow, reducing inflammation and managing blood sugar levels. They also come from moving your muscles (including your heart muscle) and putting stress on your bones. Here is the research…

 

Heart Health

 

 

Regular exercise helps to reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension. It also helps to reduce the risk of cardiac mortality according to this study.

 

Your Brain

 

 

Exercise can improve physical function and quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease. It also reduces changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Exercise improves mental functions by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is involved in learning and memory. Aerobic exercise also increases the size of the part of the brain for memory and learning (the “hippocampus“).

 

Muscles and Bones

 

 

Regular physical activity can help maintain strong muscles and bones. Strength exercises are particularly important here. As we age, we naturally start to lose muscle mass and bone density. So, to reduce the risk of or prevent osteoporosis, exercise regularly. Balance exercises and Tai Chi are also important since they can help to prevent falls.

 

Diabetes

 

People with diabetes who exercise have better insulin sensitivity and HbA1C values (the marker of good blood sugar management). Exercise does this because by contracting your muscles, you’re using the sugar in your blood.

 

Bottom Line

 

This post is just a small snippet of the health benefits of exercise. By moving just 30 minutes 5 days/week, you can vastly improve your health in many ways. Since there are different types of exercise providing different benefits, try mixing up what you do throughout the week. You don’t even need an “official” workout. Walking to the grocery store or doing household chores can count too.

 

If you’re just starting, then pick something you enjoy. Get some accountability (an exercise tracker or a buddy), and just get started. My movement challenge is a great place to begin!

>>>>>>>>>>Register for the get moving challenge here.

Is Intermittent Fasting Right for Me?

 

Intermittent fasting is a trend that we’re seeing a lot more lately. But like many other things you read about, it’s important to understand the pros and cons before making a choice on whether it will benefit you.

 

In short, intermittent fasting is going through periods of time without eating food or with limited calorie intake during certain hours/day or days/week. It’s more of an eating pattern than a diet. It limits when to eat, and not so much what to eat. And that’s part of the appeal for people who don’t want to count calories or use their food log to track everything.

 

Some argue it’s beneficial because it mimics how we were evolved to eat. Before refrigerators, 24-hour convenience stores, and all-day access to food, it was natural to fast from time to time when food was unavailable.

 

There are lots of variations of intermittent fasting. Common ones are:

  • Time Restricted Eating. This involves eating within a time restricted window. Typically, the goal is 16 hours of fasting and eating only within the other 8 hours. There is no restriction on the foods you are eating.
  • The Fast Diet. With this, you eat regularly for five days of the week, then take in just 500-600 calories/day for the other two (non-consecutive) days. There is no restriction on what foods you are eating.
  • Liquid Fasts. Periods of time when only water, coffee/tea and maybe vegetable broth are consumed. This is typically for 1-5 days. I have done this for 5 days and will write about my experience in another post!

 

Anti Aging

 

 

One of the main benefits of fasting is an increase in a process called autophagy. This is the body’s way of clearing out old, damaged cells and replacing them with new, healthier cells. In this way, intermittent fasting can be used as an anti-aging program because you are maximizing the growth of new, healthier cells. A great resource is a book The Longevity Diet.

 

In addition, intermittent fasting also helps to reduce the risk factors for many diseases such as heart disease, inflammatory conditions, cancer and Alzheimer’s. And it can help to keep weight at a healthy level.

 

Weight Loss

 

 

Intermittent fasting can help you to lose weight because ideally you to eat fewer calories in total, and burn more fat during the fasting periods. Lots of people have success with it. But what do the studies say?

 

According to one study, intermittent fasting helped people to lose 3-8% of their weight over 3-24 weeks. In this study, people also lost 4-7% of their waist circumference.

 

Another study of 100 people with obesity showed that after a year, the people who fasted on alternate days lost more weight than people who didn’t change their eating pattern. But, they didn’t lose any more weight than those on a calorie restricted diet. And out of the people who were to follow the intermittent fasting protocol, 38% of them dropped out.

 

Sticking with a system is one of the keys to weight loss success. So, be sure to pick a system that you enjoy for it to be sustainable.

 

Precautions

 

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. People who are underweight or have eating disorders shouldn’t fast. Neither should women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

 

Certain medical conditions can be worsened with longer periods of fasting. Also, people taking certain medications can be prone to side effects with intermittent fasting as well.

 

One of the reasons people drop out of the intermittent fasting eating pattern is that it’s hard to stick with the fasting part. They eat more than the allotted calories when they’re supposed to be fasting. And/or they overindulge after due to feelings of deprivation during the fast. None of these will help with weight loss.

 

Bottom Line

 

Intermittent fasting is a weight loss trend that works for some people. It can help you to lose weight and reduce belly fat. But, it isn’t safe for everyone and can also be difficult to stick with.

 

For the best chance of long-term weight loss success, finding a system you can stick with is key.

 

Have you or someone you know tried intermittent fasting? What were the results? Do you want help determining if this is the right system for you? Book a free discovery call here to learn more.

Salt: The Good and the Bad

 

There are lots of different kinds of salt: Himalayan pink, iodized, kosher, Celtic, sea, etc. They come from salt mines in the ground, or from evaporating the water out of salt water. What they all have in common is that they contain sodium. We are often scared into thinking that all sodium is bad for us. But actually, the role of sodium is important for many reasons.

 

“Sodium is an essential mineral and an important electrolyte in the body. It helps with fluid balance, and proper nerve and muscle function.”

 

In addition, there is some evidence that low sodium intake is linked to higher LDL and triglyceride levels as well as increased risk of heart disease and insulin resistance. So, salt restriction isn’t for everyone.

 

In food, salt is used to enhance flavour and also as a preservative. Salt helps to preserve food by drawing out the water that bacteria and mold need to grow. Hence, preserving the food from spoiling as quickly.

 

Our Salt Consumption

 

Would you be surprised to know that only 25% of our salt intake comes from the salt we add at the table? Most of our salt intake comes from processed foods such as chips, pretzels and salted nuts. Canned foods, pickled foods, boxed foods, deli meats, restaurant food, and fast food also add a lot to our salt intake.

 

Salt is actually about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. So, one teaspoon of salt (5,000 mg) contains about 2,000 mg of sodium.

 

How Much Sodium is Too Much?

 

Too much sodium on a regular basis can increase your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, stomach cancer, and kidney stones.

 

That one teaspoon of sodium is pretty much your entire days’ worth. People who eat a lot of packaged foods tend to eat too much sodium. In fact, 90% of American adults consume more than 2,300 mg per day, and the average intake is closer to 3,400 mg of sodium per day!

 

If you’re at high risk for the conditions above, then your limit should be about 1,500 mg of sodium each day.

 

Sodium and Blood Pressure

 

 

How does salt increase blood pressure? There is something called “salt-sensitive high blood pressure.”  Here’s how it works:

 

The salt you eat gets absorbed quickly and goes into the blood. Your body recognizes that the blood is too salty, so water is pulled into the blood to dilute it.

 

More water in the blood means more fluid your heart needs to pump and more fluid pushing against the walls of your vessels increasing blood pressure.

 

It also sends more blood to the kidneys so the sodium can be filtered out into the urine. This puts more strain on your kidneys and other sensitive vessels in your brain and heart.

 

How Can Food Help?

 

 

If you have high blood pressure, you need to do more than just stop adding salt to your food (since this is not the primary source of our salt intake). The 2 key tips you need to do are to:

  • Reduce processed/packaged food consumption and
  • Increase consumption of potassium-rich foods (mainly whole plant foods such as vegetables)

 

Bottom Line

 

If you are healthy and eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods, then you probably don’t need to worry about your salt intake. Feel free to add a bit of salt during cooking or at the table for flavour.

 

If your doctor has told you to reduce your salt or sodium intake, then do this by reducing your intake of processed foods and adding less salt to the food you make. And just as important is to increase your consumption of more plant-based foods. “Focus on what you get to add to your diet”

 

 

Some other ways that I add flavour to my food without the salt are by sprinkling dried dulse flakes (a sea vegetable) or using extra herbs and spices in my cooking.

 

For some more ideas, check out my new recipe book. These recipes will have you adding tons of delicious and flavourful vegetables to your diet without even realizing you’re doing it because the recipes are so tasty!

>>>>>>>>>>>>Download the ebook here.

4 Food Tips to Help Lower Blood Pressure

 

Do you know how many people in the world have high blood pressure (HBP)? …. A billion! It’s said to be the

“#1 risk factor for death and disability in the world.”

 

NOTE: If you have HBP, it’s best that you are monitored by your healthcare professional. And if you’re on medication for HBP, never change that without speaking with a medical professional.

 

In this post, I will explain what blood pressure is, and which foods and lifestyle factors can help keep yours at an optimal level.

 

What is High Blood Pressure?

 

HBP is something you often have checked at the doctor’s office. You can even do it yourself in many pharmacies, or purchase at-home blood pressure monitors. There is an inflatable tube placed around your arm that gets blown up and feels tight.

 

The monitors measure how hard your blood is pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. If your vessels are stiff, the pressure increases. The top number (called systolic) measures the pressure your heart exerts while beating. The bottom number (called diastolic) measures the pressure in your arteries between beats.

 

It’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly because for many people there are no symptoms and it can slowly creep higher and higher without you noticing.

 

This is important because if your blood pressure is elevated for too long, it can cause serious damage. In extreme cases, it can result in blindness, kidney damage, stroke, or even a heart attack.

 

Here are a few of the foods and drinks that you can use to help keep your blood pressure in check.

 

Eat More Plant Food

 

 

Plants help manage blood pressure because eating them increases your intake of many critical nutrients including…

  • Antioxidant vitamins such as C and E.
  • Folate and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and sulfur.
  • Fiber

 

Some plants to eat more of include leafy greens (kale in particular), legumes, nuts/seeds, broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes.

 

Two plants I want to highlight in particular are flaxseeds and beets.

  • A few tablespoons of ground flaxseeds a day is one of the best foods to help with blood pressure.
  • Beets contain a blood pressure lowering substance called nitrate. Beet juice has been shown to reduce blood pressure within hours of drinking it.

 

Drink Hibiscus Tea

 

 

Yes, there is science behind the blood pressure lowering effects of hibiscus tea.

 

Several clinical studies have shown that it works. In one study, people drank two cups of strong hibiscus tea every morning. Those two cups were made using a total of five tea bags. This lowered the subjects’ blood pressure as much as a blood pressure medication.

 

NOTE: This tea is not recommended if you are taking a thiazide diuretic.

 

Eat Less Processed Food

 

We’ve all heard the advice to reduce sodium intake for high blood pressure. Not surprisingly, most of the sodium in our diet is from the salt added to processed foods. It’s not from the dash or two on your homemade cooked-from-scratch dinner. Reducing processed food intake not only reduces sodium and sugar intake but also increases your intake of more nutrient-dense less processed foods. Win-win.

 

Ditch the fast-food, takeout, restaurant meals, and convenience snacks. Replace them with some of the plants I mentioned above.

 

Ditch Caffeine

 

 

Coffee has been shown to temporarily increase blood pressure. Its effects can last for up to three hours after drinking it. It may not be so bad if you’re not sensitive to it, but caffeine affects some people more than others. Some caffeine sensitivity symptoms include shakiness, worry, irregular heartbeat, or difficulty sleeping.

 

If you find caffeine affects you, then try eliminating it for a period of time and see how it impacts your blood pressure.

 

NOTE: Don’t drink a cup of regular coffee or have other sources of caffeine right before your next doctor’s appointment or blood pressure test.

 

Lifestyle Factors

 

In addition to food, know that a number of lifestyle factors can be helpful too.

  • Quit smoking
  • Don’t overdo alcohol consumption
  • Reduce stress by meditating, practicing yoga, deep breathing, walking in nature, etc.
  • Move your body, but start small. Try not to overdo exercise if you already have high blood pressure.

 

Bottom Line

 

High blood pressure can be a silent killer, so make sure you are proactive in getting checked.  Elevated blood pressure puts you at risk for serious diseases.

 

If you already have HBP, you should be regularly monitored by your healthcare professional, and never change your medications without his/her input.

 

Some of the key food and lifestyle upgrades that can help with blood pressure are:

  • Eating more plants, particularly ground flaxseeds and beets
  • Drinking hibiscus tea
  • Eating fewer processed foods
  • Ditching coffee if you’re sensitive to it
  • Quitting smoking
  • Moderating alcohol
  • Reducing stress
  • Exercising wisely

 

Which of these are you going to try first? If you are worried about your blood pressure and don’t know where to begin, book a free discovery call with me here to learn how a certified nutritionist can support you with a plan to get you on the road back to health.

Creating a Mindset for Health

 

I have described the pillars of overall health being: nutrition, movement, mindset, and environment.

  • Nutrition – eating whole foods that nourish our body
  • Movement – moving our bodies in ways that feel good
  • Mindset – the thoughts and beliefs that have an impact
  • Environment – living in an environment that is clean and free of toxins

 

Most of us know the above information, but it’s the implementation that can feel challenging.

 

Our ability to create sustainable health often includes addressing some long-standing habits. But where do we start? Sometimes even a simple change feels overwhelming. But what if there was one powerful tool we could use to make it easier?

 

That tool is your mindset.

 

Mindset is sometimes called “the story we tell ourselves.” It’s our attitude and beliefs toward things going on in our life.

 

It’s something that we have control over. And research is showing that it may be far more powerful than we thought.

 

Mindset Research

 

 

Here’s a quick story about a fascinating study.

 

Researchers at Stanford University looked at the health and wellness lifestyle habits of over 60,000 people, as well as health markers.

 

What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active. Even if they actually weren’t less active!

 

How is it possible that people who simply thought they were less active had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true?

 

There are a couple of ideas why.

  1. One is that perhaps if we feel like we’re less active, it may make us feel more stressed. And stress isn’t good for our mental or physical health.
  2. Second, there may be a mind-body connection where the body embodies what the mind visualizes.

 

Researchers don’t know why, but the takeaway is that a good mindset is important. So, here are a couple of strategies to boost your mindset for health.

 

Go For “Good Enough”

 

 

Almost no one eats perfectly seven days a week. And obsessing over the quality and quantity of everything we eat or drink isn’t a great mindset to have. This is one of the things I’ll be talking about in the mindset challenge.

>>>>>>>Register for the mindset challenge here

 

It can bring on binging, shame, and guilt – none of these are great ways to get healthy. We want to get healthier by making better choices and building better habits. And these are usually best done incrementally – one step at a time.

 

“ Healthy Eating Starts in the Mind”

 

Instead of having a black and white approach where we are either “on a diet” or not, try aiming for good enough every day. This will empower you to make better choices, instead of perfect choices.

 

Avoid Deprivation and “Cheat” Days

 

 

When you try to earn a gluttonous weekend by eating clean during the week, you’re making a tradeoff. You’re telling yourself that, as long as you’re good during the week, you can go wild on the weekend.

 

In this case, your mindset is jumping from one extreme to the other. You’re controlling what you do all week, and possibly thinking about how to indulge over the weekend.

 

It is always helpful to put on your detective hat and figure out what’s going on when you’re choosing or even planning to overeat.  Are you stressed, bored or lonely? Habit change is something that we cover in the Finding Foodease Program. Once we identify our triggers, then we can systematically reverse engineer alternatives that will satisfy your needs without the overeating part.

 

Bottom Line

 

Mindset for health can be a powerful tool for better physical health. There’s a proven mind-body connection that research can measure.

 

A new you starts with self-love and belief that you are successful in your changes. Spending some time exploring your mental health and doing work in this area can help you reach your health goals.

 

How is your mindset for health? Which of these tips resonate with you the most? How are you going to implement them in your life?

 

If you want some motivation and support to make a few changes

>>>>>>>>>check out this mindset challenge here. Starts November 5.

Are Konjac Noodles Healthy?

 

For the last few years, I’ve been passing by these noodles packaged in a liquid in the grocery store and never picked them up. I didn’t know how to prepare them or use them in a recipe, so I passed right by without much thought.

 

More recently, I saw a recipe that included shirataki noodles and the nutrient content showed it to be low in carbohydrates. I wondered how that was possible since the recipe included noodles. My curiosity got the better of me and I purchased a package to investigate and try it out.

 

Here is what I learned.

 

What are Konjac Noodles?

 

Konjac and shirataki noodles are both made from the starchy corm of the Konjac plant. It is a traditional food originating in Japan in the 6th century. They are made from the glucomannan fiber from the plant that is ground into a flour and then used to make the noodles. This is an excellent source of soluble fiber and “prebiotics” which are helpful for increasing the good bacteria in the gut.

 

 

The noodles are usually packaged in water, and they are mostly made of water. They have a somewhat gelatinous texture, but that wasn’t a problem for me personally. They are very easy to prepare as it just involves draining off the liquid and giving them a good rinse. To remove any odor from the packing fluid, plunge into boiling water for about a minute.

 

They don’t have much of a taste on their own, so they take on the flavour of the food they are cooked in. Therefore they are best used in soups and stir-fry dishes. See this pad thai recipe here.

 

What are the Health Benefits?

 

There are a number of health benefits that are associated with consumption of the glucomannan fiber.

  • Assisting with weight loss – while consumption doesn’t cause you to lose weight, it helps you to feel full so that you are likely to eat less.
  • Reducing constipation – the high level of fiber is beneficial for reducing symptoms of constipation. On the flip side, overconsumption can create undesirable digestive impacts such as loose stool and bloating.
  • Improving cholesterol levels – numerous studies on konjac fiber use have shown cholesterol-lowering benefits
  • Improving blood sugar management – supplementing with konjac showed improved fasting glucose

 

 

Are There Any Concerns?

 

While the konjac noodles seem like a miracle discovery with few calories and carbohydrates, I would caution you to consume them in moderation like you would any other food. You need a balance of macronutrients to feel your best and you don’t want to get too much of any individual food (even healthy ones).

 

Bottom Line

 

I suggest that you give this food a try. Especially if you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned above.

 

Make sure you follow the preparation instructions to eliminate any remnants of taste from the packaging liquid. And keep an open mind. Like any new food, it can take a few tries to get used to it. And, don’t go crazy and eat tons of it every day.

 

Feel free to try any of your favourite soup or stir-fry recipes to do your taste test. Or, give this pad thai recipe a try.

Mental Strategies for Weight Loss

 

Do mental strategies really work for reducing weight? Science shows definite health benefits from mindfulness and meditation. And in this post, I will describe how you can use it to help manage your weight and cravings.

 

“Meditation” is the practice of connecting the body and mind to become more self-aware and present. It’s often used to calm down, ease stress, and relax. And practicing “mindfulness” is one of the most popular ways to meditate.

 

Stress Reduction

 

Seventy-five to ninety percent of doctor’s visits are due to stress. That’s a staggering number! But what does stress have to do with weight and cravings?

 

 

Chronic stress creates chronic inflammation and also increases the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It can negatively impact sleep as well. And all 3 of these have massive effects on your physical and mental health as well as your weight.

 

In one study, people who took an 8-week mindfulness program had greater improvement in symptoms according to the “Hamilton Anxiety Scale” than those who took a stress management program that did not include mindfulness.

 

Other studies show that mindfulness has similar effects as antidepressant medications for some people with mild to moderate symptoms of depression. While mindfulness isn’t always a cure, it can help to improve moods.

 

In particular, mindfulness can reduce stress-related and emotional overeating. And in a previous post, I’ve described how stress can sabotage your weight loss efforts in other ways as well.

 

Mindfulness Studies

 

 

Studies show that people who use mind-body practices, including mindfulness, have a lower BMI (Body Mass Index).

 

How does this work?

 

One way it works is due to mindful eating which is…

  • a “non-judgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating.”
  • a practice of being more aware of food and the eating process.
  • listening more deeply to how hungry and full you actually are.
  • not allowing yourself to be distracted by other things while you’re eating, like what’s on TV or your smartphone.

 

People with higher mindfulness scores reported smaller serving sizes of energy-dense foods. In other words, more mindful eating = less junk food consumed.

 

Mindfulness can also help reduce cravings and binge eating leading to more successful weight management.

 

Digestion and Gut Health

 

 

Recent studies show a link between stress, stress hormones, and changes in the gut microbiome. This means that mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques could be a way to help prevent these negative changes in your gut.

 

For instance, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is linked to stress and imbalanced gut microbiome. In one study, people with IBS who received mindfulness training showed greater reductions in digestive symptoms than the group who received standard medical care.

 

What is the link between poor gut bacteria diversity and difficulty with weight loss? Studies have shown that psychological stress creates imbalanced gut bacteria, increasing inflammation which is associated with weight gain. So, theoretically, mindfulness techniques designed to reduce stress can help with weight loss as well.

 

Bottom Line

 

Science shows amazing health benefits of the ancient practice of mindfulness meditation for weight loss and more.

 

Do you regularly include it in your life? If so, what benefits have you noticed? If not, would you consider trying it? I have made it fun and easy with my Mindset Challenge.

 

If you want to be notified when my next Mindset Challenge is being held so that you can join, send me a note here and I will add you to my list!

 

BONUS Tips – stress reducing support…

 

Books:

The Energy Bus

The Happiness Advantage

 

Videos:

Introduction to Emotional Freedom Technique video

https://www.thetappingsolution.com/tapping-101/

 

Meditate in One Minute or Less Everyday video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtG8No-MMOM&list=PLerdqrUWzOkd7m9HQj1yfJiI09pwVhPcD&index=10

 

Apps:

Calm App

https://www.calm.com/

 

Headspace App (free 10-day trial)

https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app

 

Podcasts:

Daily Meditation Podcast

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/daily-meditation-podcast/id892107837?mt=2

 

Hay House Meditations Podcast

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/hay-house-meditations/id955266444?mt=2

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.