Dangers of Restrictive Diet Programs

Losing weight using a restrictive diet program is not effective in the long run – most dieters gain back their weight and more, it can also be hazardous to your health.

If a certain food group is avoided, there can be a gap in the nutrition that the dieter is taking in, and this will create deficiency in the long run. Nutrient deficiency is one of the main causes of cravings, which of course can lead to binging and weight gain.

If calorie intake is restricted, the body will slow down metabolism, and when the diet program is over and food intake is back to normal, the body is not burning as much calories and the dieter will gain the weight back just by eating the normal amount.

Restricted caloric intake affects metabolism and can have an impact on thyroid function, and can potentially lead to hypothyroidism.

If body fat level drops too low, it can lead to irregular period (or absence of period altogether). This is caused by low estrogen level – which can also lead to osteoporosis.

Restrictive diets are also not sustainable. On the other hand, a balanced lifestyle that includes a variety of wholesome foods is sustainable, and is the best way to combat cravings (cravings often lead to weight gain).

A few dietary and lifestyle changes can lead to pleasurable and effortless weight loss that can bring you a lifetime of benefits and that is what i teach in my A Healthier You program that is now open for registration.

As it’s back to school/work week following the Summer break, I am sharing one of my simple, one pan meals to help you out on those crazy busy days. Click here to check out my One Pan Chicken, Golden Cauliflower & Carrot Fries.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Can my Symptoms Actually be Food Intolerance?

Food intolerances or “sensitivities” can affect you in so many ways and they’re a lot more common than most people think.

I’m not talking about anaphylaxis or immediate allergic reactions that involve an immune response. Those can be serious and life-threatening.  If you have any allergies, you need to steer clear of any traces of foods you are allergic to, and speak with your doctor or pharmacist about emergency medication, if necessary.

What I’m talking about, is an intolerance, meaning you do not tolerate a specific food very well and it causes immediate or chronic symptoms anywhere in the body. Symptoms can take hours or even days to show themselves. And symptoms can be located just about anywhere in the body.

This is what makes them so tricky to identify.

Symptoms of food intolerances

There are some common food intolerances that have immediate and terribly painful gastrointestinal symptoms, such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease. These can cause stomach pain, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea;  symptoms can start immediately after eating lactose or gluten.

On the other hand, other more insidious symptoms may not be linked to foods in an obvious way.

Symptoms like:

  • Chronic muscle or joint pain
  • Sweating, or increased heart rate or blood pressure
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Exhaustion after a good night’s sleep
  • Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rashes or eczema
  • Inability to concentrate or feeling like your brain is “foggy”
  • Shortness of breath

If your body has trouble digesting specific foods, it can affect your hormones, metabolism, or even cause inflammation and result in any of the symptoms listed above. And these can affect any (or all) parts of the body, not just your gastrointestinal system.

How to prevent these intolerances

The main thing you can do is to figure out which foods or drinks you may be reacting to and stop ingesting them.

I know, I know…this sounds so simple, and yet it can be SO HARD.

The best way to identify your food/drink triggers is to eliminate them.

Yup, get rid of those offending foods/drinks. All traces of them, for three full weeks and monitor your symptoms.

If things get better, then you need to decide whether it’s worth it to stop ingesting them, or if you want to slowly introduce them back one at a time while still looking out to see if/when symptoms return.

Start Here: Two common food intolerances

Here are two of the most common triggers of food intolerances:

  • Lactose (in dairy – eliminate altogether, or look for a “lactose-free” label – try nut or coconut milk instead).
  • Gluten (in wheat, rye, and other common grains – look for a “gluten-free” label – try gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa & gluten-free oats).

This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a good place to start because lactose intolerance is thought to affect up to 75% of people, while “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” can affect up to 13% of people.

So, if you can eliminate all traces of lactose and gluten for three weeks, it can confirm whether either or both of these, are a source of your symptoms.

Yes, dairy and grains are a part of many government-recommended food guidelines, but you absolutely can get all of the nutrients you need if you focus on replacing them with nutrient-dense foods.

A reliable way to monitor how you feel after eating certain foods is to track it. After every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate, and any symptoms so you can more easily spot trends.

Click here to download a free copy of my How Food Feels Journal to help you track.

And, as mentioned earlier, symptoms may not start immediately following a meal. You may find, for example, that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating bananas.

You might be surprised what links you can find if you track your food and symptoms well!

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you eliminate something, you need to make sure it’s not hiding in other foods, or the whole point of eliminating it for a few weeks is lost. Restaurant food, packaged foods, and sauces or dressings are notorious for adding ingredients that you’d never think are there. You know that sugar hides in almost everything, but did you also know that wheat is often added to processed meats and soy sauce, and lactose can even be found in some medications or supplements?

When in doubt you HAVE to ask the server in a restaurant about hidden ingredients, read labels, and consider cooking from scratch.

What if it doesn’t work?

If eliminating these two common food intolerances doesn’t work, then you can go one step further to eliminate all dairy (even lactose-free) and all grains (even gluten-free) for three weeks.

You may also choose to see your friendly Naturopath for food sensitivity testing. Dr Danielle Marchildon ND who i work with at Collective Health Clinic can arrange this testing for you.

If you are game for eliminating dairy from your diet click here for my recipes for my recipe for Homemade Almond Milk.  and Chocolate Almond milk they are super easy to make.

Enjoy!

 

References:

http://www.dietvsdisease.org/11-warning-signs-you-have-a-food-intolerance/

https://authoritynutrition.com/lactose-intolerance-101/

https://authoritynutrition.com/signs-you-are-gluten-intolerant/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/food-sensitivities-health-infographic

5 Weight-Loss Friendly Snacks You Will Love

The words “weight-loss” and “snacks” often appear in the same sentence.

But that might also bring thoughts of “tasteless,” “cardboard,” and “completely unsatisfying.”

Right?

Let me give you my best weight-loss friendly snacks that aren’t just nutritious but also delicious!

What’s my criteria you ask?

They have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way;  foods that contain fiber and/or protein.

1.Nuts

nuts and seed collection (cashew, pecan, hazelnut,pine nuts, pea

It’s true – nuts contain calories and fat, but they are NOT fattening!

Well, I’m not talking about the “honey roasted” ones, of course. Those probably are fattening.

Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner.

By the way, nuts also contain protein and fiber, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.

Did you know that almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism!

Snack Ideas:  Pair them up with fresh fruit – cashews & raspberries are my favourite! Make up your own trail mix with your favourite nuts & seeds, even add a little dried fruit or dark chocolate to spruce it up. Add nut butter to apples or inside dates.

2. Fruit

Strawberries At Farmer's Market

As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (I’m sure you’re not too surprised!)

Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (I’m not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain a fair bit of water and fiber; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories.

Fiber is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the “satiety factor”) but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious “blood sugar spike.”

Win-win!

Try a variety of fruit (apples, pears, berries, etc.) and pair that with a handful of nuts or you just grab a peach dive right in. Peach season is my favourite, the kids & I just can’t get enough of them, if i had to pick a favourite fruit this would be eat – local, fresh, juicy peaches. If i am not eating them on their own, i am adding them to smoothies, coconut yogurt and salads. Check out my recipe for Peach & Sweet Potato Salad below.

Snack Ideas: Well, the obvious is to just eat real fruit. If you can’t do fresh? Try dried or frozen. Plus, they’re already chopped for you. My kids love frozen mango & cherries. Pair an apple with cheddar cheese. Some frozen blueberries with plain Greek yogurt & honey. Wrap some prosciutto around a peach or pear or another of my favourites fill some dates with natural almond butter.

3. Chia seeds

This is one of my personal favourites.

Chia is not only high in fibre (I mean HIGH in fibre), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes THOSE omega-3s!). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.

Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?

They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up).

Snack Idea: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of coconut milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, and/or cinnamon and enjoy. Also check out my recipe below!

4. Boiled or poached eggs

Half Boiled Eggs

Eggs are packed with nutrition and most of it is in the yolk.

They contain a lot of high-quality protein and a good amount of vitamins and minerals.

And recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk.

Yup, you read that right!

Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack!

5. Vegetables

Organic vegetables on a stand at a farmers market with a sign re

I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.

Veggies contain fibre and water to help fill you up, and you don’t need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?

You can easily open a bag of baby carrots and/or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized).

Snack Idea: Use some hummus or gaucamole as a dip or put some nut butter on celery.

Conclusion:

Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. Prepare them the night before if you need to. They will not be “tasteless,” like “cardboard,” or “completely unsatisfying.” Trust me.

As a little bonus, I have included 2 recipes this week a great healthy snack of Banana Chia Crisps. and my Peach & Sweet Potato Salad. Let me know what you think of them.

 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-most-weight-loss-friendly-foods/

https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/almonds/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/almonds/

https://authoritynutrition.com/is-fruit-good-or-bad-for-your-health/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/best-fruits-diabetics/

https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/apples/

https://authoritynutrition.com/fresh-vs-frozen-fruit-and-vegetables/

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/eggs/

What Are Your Cravings Trying To Tell You?

A few years ago cravings ruled my life. I was constantly craving sugar or bread and even wine but despite how much i ate/drank i was never satisfied, i still wanted more.

At the time, i didn’t understand that my body was trying to tell me something. Symptoms are our bodies language and cravings are a symptom. It could be caused by nutritional deficiencies, hunger or emotions. Either way, honor your cravings by getting to the root cause, and find out what your body really needs.

Yin/Yang Imbalance

First, let’s look at the concept of Yin/Yang balance.

Eating foods that throw our body out of balance can create food cravings. It is very helpful to look at this idea under the lens of Yin/Yang balance. We can put all our foods along the Yin/Yang spectrum. Yin foods are the ones that are cool and expanding in nature, while Yang foods are ones that are warm and contracting in nature.

When we eat too much Yang foods – such as red meat, salt and egg, our body will want some Yin foods to restore balance. Sugar and alcohol are extreme Yin foods that our body would usually crave.

Armed with this knowledge, you can reduce your sugar cravings by eating less extreme yang foods and instead, choose foods that are more neutral on the spectrum. Examples are whole grains, fish, sea vegetables, beans, root vegetables, and squash.

Energy Quick Fix

Cravings for sugar or refined carbohydrates can happen when our body needs a quick energy fix. Our body can extract energy from sugar very quickly, and is therefore the “food of choice” when a quick fix is needed.

To avoid the need for an energy quick fix, eat for sustained energy. Eat meals that are low in glycemic load – whole unprocessed foods such as whole grains, vegetables, and beans are great choices. They are high in fiber, which moderates the speed at which the sugar is absorbed by the body. Also, make sure you include a moderate amount of good fat and lean protein to slow down stomach emptying and increase satiety.

To support the body’s energy production, increase intake of foods rich in vitamin Bs – they are vital in our body’s energy production cycle. Good choices are whole grains, wheat germ, and brewer’s yeast.

Nutrient Deficiency

Cravings can be a sign of nutrient deficiency. Cravings for different flavor or texture can translate to a lack of various nutrients such as chromium, sulfur and tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an amino acid readily available in animal foods, eggs, dairy products, and some nuts and seeds, and is particularly rich in turkey meat.

Low Protein Intake

If you have a relatively low protein diet and tend to crave sugar and feel fatigue easily, try increasing your protein intake, or experiment with the type of protein in your diet.

Besides meat, fish and milk, you can try nuts and seeds, good quality cheese in moderate amount, as well as eggs, yogurt and beans. For vegetarians, and particularly vegan, pay more attention to food combining to get a complete protein profile from various plant sources.

Dehydration

Cravings can be caused by dehydration. Our body often misinterprets the sensation of thirst and translates that into hunger. Next time when you feel your cravings coming on, drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes, and see if you are still hungry.

Click here for my Turkey & Quinoa Zucchini Boats recipe.

Enjoy!

How Do I Keep My Blood Sugar Stable?

Oh, the words “blood sugar.”

Does it conjure up visions of restrictive eating, diabetes medications, or insulin injections?

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

The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot.

This fluctuation is the natural balance 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 keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin allows excess sugar to get it out of your bloodstream and into your muscle cells and other tissues for energy

Why keep my blood sugar stable?

Your body wants your blood sugar to be at an optimal level. It should be high enough, so you’re not light-headed, fatigued, and irritable. It should be low enough that your body isn’t scrambling to remove excess from the blood.

When blood sugar is too low, this is referred to as “hypoglycemia.”

When blood sugar is too high, it is referred to as hyperglycemia.  Prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar levels (chronic hyperglycemia) can lead to “insulin resistance.”

Insulin resistance is when your cells are just so bored of the excess insulin that they start ignoring (resisting) it, and that keeps your blood sugar levels too high.

Insulin resistance and chronic hyperglycemia can eventually lead to diabetes.

So let’s look at what you can do with your diet and lifestyle to keep your blood sugar stable.

 

Food for stable blood sugar

The simplest thing to do to balance your blood sugar is to reduce the number of refined sugars and starches you eat.  To do this, you can start by dumping sweet drinks and having smaller portions of dessert.

Eating more fiber is helpful too. Fiber helps to slow down the amount of sugar absorbed from your meal; it reduces the “spike” in your blood sugar level.  Fiber is found in plant-based foods (as long as they are eaten in their natural state, processing foods removed fiber).  Eating nuts, seeds, and whole fruits and veggies (not juiced) is a great way to increase your fiber intake.

FUN FACT: 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. (HINT: It’s in the recipe below)

 

Lifestyle for stable blood sugar

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. But you already knew that exercise is healthy, didn’t you?

Would you believe that stress affects your blood sugar levels? Yup! Stress hormones increase 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 signals are sent to release stored forms of sugar back into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar levels.  So, try to reduce the stress you’re under and manage it more effectively. Check out last weeks blog about what you can do to nourish your soul.

Sleep goes hand-in-hand with stress. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, you tend to release stress hormones, have a higher appetite, and even get sugar cravings. Sleep is 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.

 

Conclusion 

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 approaches you can take to help keep your blood sugar stable. Minimizing excessive carbs, and eating more fiber, exercising, reducing stress, and improving sleep are all key to having stable blood sugar (and overall good health).

Check out my recipe for No Bake Apple Cinnamon Bites to help curb those cravings.

 

Boost Your Energy with Food for the Soul

Increasing self-care is one of the best ways to improve your energy level. When you do things that you are passionate about, it fuels your soul. When you allow yourself to take a break and relax, you feel refreshed and have all the energy to take on the world.

Here are some ideas to nourish your soul:

  1. Clean, fresh air in other words get outside!
  2. Exercise or movement. Find something that you love to do and do it on a regular basis!
  3. Surround yourself with meaningful relationships.
  4. Fulfilling career or hobbies.
  5. Rest and relaxation and I mean really rest. Not lying down and scrolling through your phone. 100% pure relaxing.
  6. Spiritual practice. What is that you say? Well it can be as simple as beginning to decrease stress, calm your mind, deepen your spiritual connection, and increase your overall happiness and health. Spending time alone or aligning yourself with like-minded people or developing daily habits such as 5 minutes of breathing or meditating.
  7. Journaling. I love the Five Minute Journal. I use this every morning and evening.

Create a “nourishment menu” for yourself. When you feel like you need a boost, take the list out and do one of the things that fuels your soul. Some ideas: taking a walk in nature, calling your loved ones, doing yoga or stretching exercises, taking your dog out for a walk, taking a walk with a friend to catch up, or working on a hobby.

Now a little extra treat to nourish not only your soul but your body too. Click here for my recipe for Strawberry Ice Cream. Enjoy!