I Struggle Too

I have been absent from my blog and social media for a few weeks and I thought it was time to share what’s been happening in my life and how I have been struggling.

The reason I am going to share such personal information with you is not because I want your sympathy but because I want you to know that I don’t always have things together. I may be a nutritionist but that doesn’t mean that I don’t deal with the same struggles as you when it comes to my eating and emotions. My life is far from perfect and I want you to see that side of things too as sometimes social media doesn’t always portray reality.

I became a nutritionist at 34 years of age but before that, 3 decades of my life were spent addicted to sugar, emotionally eating and never being satisfied with how I looked and all of those feelings have resurfaced recently. The reason for this is that my Uncle Dave in England fell very ill and has since passed away. He is very close to myself and my family so I flew home to see him while he was in hospital and feel very blessed to have had the chance to spend some quality time with him.

After my visit, I have gone through the roller coaster of emotions that comes with these times. Sadness of course for the loss of him, guilt because I haven’t been able to be with him throughout his lasts days and weeks and for not being able to help and support my family through this transition. As a result of these feelings I have been completely demotivated, my energy has been super low so the thought of even doing yoga has been too much (thank goodness for puppy Scout and his walks.)

My food has taken a turn for the worse, I have been eating for my emotions and really haven’t had any motivation to spend time in the kitchen. When I have it’s been getting in and out as quickly as possible. This has meant I have been reaching for comfort food alot which for me is gluten, dairy and sugar – all the things that have been out of my diet for so long and that my body negatively reacts to. Veggies have been on the bottom of the list of desires for me and I have been eating out or diving into the kids treat bags on a regular basis normally accompanied by a glass of wine!

On Friday I went out for dinner with the family and ate pretty well but then we got home and I took Bens leftover mac n cheese, went and hid in the bathroom upstairs and devoured half of it. I was sitting there on the toilet eating and it took me back to the many years prior where this had been a regular occurrence. I would always hide food and binge eat, I felt so guilty then as i did now. This was a turning point for me. I don’t want to feel that way anymore. I have worked SO hard to become healthy again, not only in my body but also my mind and it shocked me how quickly I reverted to my old coping mechanisms.

Like I said, I don’t want your sympathy. I know this isn’t the happiest of blogs but it is important for me to share this with you. My passion is to help women who are where I have been, I want to help you rebuild your health and love for yourself. I know how crappy it can feel, I know how sad and guilty you can feel, I know how tired and stressed out you can feel. I have been there, just recently in fact as a BIG reminder.

As women, we need to hold each other up, support each other, send love to each other and let each other know that we are not alone. I am on this journey with you and if you need help I will hold your hand and guide you. As my friend Sarah calls us, “we are warriors baby.” Be strong, you are worth it, you are enough, you are loved.

Why You Should Try An Elimination Diet

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That tiredness, bloating, skin rash or brain fog you’ve been experiencing could be the result of food intolerances.  These discomforts we tend to write off as normal can be directly related to what you’re eating, and the way to know for sure if what you’re eating is causing you trouble is to try an elimination diet.

To make it simple, an elimination diet consists of you avoiding certain foods for a few weeks.  After you get these foods out of your system, you’ll begin reintroducing them to your diet one at a time. If you have kids, it’s much like starting them on solids and watching for any symptoms of sensitivities, but in reverse.

Food Sensitivity Symptoms

Intolerances aren’t always a major allergic reaction with a swollen tongue and puffy eyes.  In fact, the majority of food intolerances present themselves as common discomforts such as dry skin, itching, bloating, digestive upsets, headaches, fatigue, migraines, and achy joints and pains. You might only have one of these or a combination of them.

Yes, it sounds like just about every other illness, but you might find that with an elimination diet, you’ll pinpoint the source of that mysterious bloating that isn’t during your period and actually be able to do something about it, finally!  You’ll feel more like yourself, and you’ll be aware of what foods cause inflammation for you.

Of top importance is getting rid of any chronic inflammation you may be dealing with.  Over time, it can cause significant damage and lead to illness. Don’t panic if you only feel these symptoms once in a while, but if you feel like this daily, for example, fogginess when thinking, small aches, skin issues, or bloating, you should definitely try the elimination diet to see if you can get back to feeling like yourself.

How to Do It

Want to get started? The elimination diet has 2 phases. The first one is about eliminating while the second one is about reintroduction. You should keep a rigorous journal to help you spot any changes, good or bad.

1. The Elimination Phase

During this phase, you must eliminate any foods you think are triggering symptoms for about 2 or 3 weeks. Most of these are things like dairy, citrus, corn, nuts, eggs, seafood, pork, gluten, wheat, and nightshade vegetables. Generally, you’ll notice your symptoms clear up which will mean you’re ready for the next phase. If nothing changes, you should schedule a checkup with your doctor as soon as possible.

2. The Reintroduction Phase

Next, you’ll slowly start bringing those eliminated foods back onto your plate. Only introduce one food group at a time over a period of 2 to 3 days. Be watching for those symptoms we mentioned. If anything you reintroduce sets off your symptoms, then you know you need to eliminate it.

One word of caution though: some of you may find several groups of reintroduced food to bring your symptoms back. Should that happen to you, schedule a checkup a friendly holistic nutritionist (aka me 😊) to help you get the right nutrition while avoiding the foods that trigger your symptoms, so you don’t become nutritionally deficient.

All you need now is the willingness to devote the time.  You will be saving yourself a lifetime of discomfort, and the time you invest is absolutely worth it.

Simple Ways to Liven Up Your Leftovers

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You had the best intentions of using up those leftovers from the weekend.  At first, your Meal Prep Sunday seemed like a dream idea.  You’d prep food for the week, have it all stored and ready, and you’d have a home cooked meal every day without much effort.  But by day three of it, your family is giving you the side-eye, and you can no longer bear to eat the same dish again.

I feel you. It happens to us all. We all want to make use of our leftovers, but we get bored, and food goes to waste instead. Instead of forcing yourself and your family to eat the same things day in and day out, try these leftover tips that will help you liven things up and reignite the spark that makes you excited to dig in.

  1. Add avocado

Leftover brown rice and sautéed veggies? Eh. Leftover brown rice and sautéed veggies with fresh avocado? Now you’re talking! Drizzle on some sriracha too for a spicy hit and facelift on your leftovers.

  1. Add some crunch

Sometimes, we just need more texture to make things interesting.  Adding a crunch to your meal can spice it up quite a bit.  Try adding it to your leftovers any way that makes sense. Look in your pantry for walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond slivers or anything else that might add a crunch along with a nice dose of healthy fats that are good for you, too.  I even love having crispy onions or crispy jalapenos atop a salad when I want something different.

  1. Top on some greens

Or even layer them below. Sometimes that leftover shrimp tastes excellent warmed up over a bed of fresh kale, spinach or lettuce. Or you can make some quick brown rice or zucchini noodles and mix it all together to create a new dish that tastes like takeout without the cost (or the heaps of calories).

  1. Reheat it on the stove

A fresh re-preparation tends to bridge the gap of meh to marvelous, doesn’t it?  The microwave can zap the freshness right out of your food, so skip the microwave when warming up leftovers.  Toss your items in a pan and sauté it fresh with a teaspoon of olive oil.  Add some new, fresh herbs and spices, and you’ll have to remind yourself you’re eating leftovers.

  1. Try a new condiment

Salsa and sriracha can each help dress up leftovers.  If your refrigerator looks anything like mine, your shelves are lined with different condiments and sauces to choose from.  Experiment with them to create new dishes by adding a few drops of different flavor.  It can make all the difference and completely change the taste of your meal.

Give these a try and see if you’re making better use of your leftovers. Remember to freeze big meals so you can pull them out another time to make on a busy night. You’ll appreciate them better when you do!

So, spill the beans.  Are you a leftovers person or do you struggle with eating the same meal twice?  Hit reply and let me know.

MCT Oil: What it is and Why You’re Going to Love It!

There’s been quite a bit of talk about MCT oil lately, and for good reason. MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides, are outstanding for your health. They’re very special fatty acids that contain anywhere from 6 to 12 carbons in length. That’s technical-talk, though, so let’s get down to what it really means.

So, what does all of this mean for you?

These healthy MCTs are not hugely present in the typical Western diet. Your body needs good fats and our diets are swarmed with trans fats, instead. You can get MCTs from certain foods naturally, or you can take supplemental MCT oils which are great to enhance your diet with.

However you take your MCTs, through food or by choosing a high-quality MCT oil, you’ll get a ton of benefits. Some of these include…

  1. Improved memory and brain health
    If you always feel like your brain is in a fog or you’re tired of trying to remember where you put your keys, MCT oil helps improve your overall brain health and function. It can sharpen your mind and make you more alert — no jittery caffeine involved!
  2. It boosts energy
    Because it absorbs easily, you’ll be given a boost of energy quickly. Having 1 tablespoon in a cup of green tea in the mornings is the perfect way to start your day. It does leave an oily residue floating in your cup but have no fear, you cannot taste it in tea. It does add a bit of a flavor to a cup of coffee, but tea is the magic potion for not being able to taste it. Nutiva, Bulletproof, St Francis and Perfect Keto are some of my favourite brands.
  3. It promotes a healthy microbiome
    Keeping your immunity strong is a surefire way to avoid being stuck in bed sick. MCT keeps things in balance and kills off bacterial infections that you may come into contact with, allowing you to feel good each day.
  4. Wonderful for weight loss
    If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll love MCT oil. It makes you feel fuller faster so you’ll wind up eating less. It also lowers your metabolic rate and reduces the conversion of carbs into fat. In studies, it showed people lost more weight from their hips and waist when taking it, which is another outstanding benefit.
  5. It gives you more stamina during workouts
    If you really want to shred it at the gym, take MCT to keep up that stamina. It’s been shown to help keep you going even during high-intensity workouts. And that’s not all! It helps balance your blood sugar, keeps your liver healthy, and helps to balance cholesterol.

If you want to get in on all the wonderful benefits, you should start taking it now. If you’ve never taken it before, use caution as it can irritate your stomach if you overload on it too quickly. A teaspoon each day is an excellent way to start. If you are struggling with health issues, speak with your medical professional first.

You can add it to bone broth, smoothies, soups, even tea, and coffee, or just about anything else you can think of to get closer to your best health every day!

Healthy Snacks to Fuel You All Week

There comes a point when you feel tired of eating the same snacks over and over again.

Prepping them each week can become mundane, and that trip to the vending machine to make a snap decision seems exciting, easy, and spontaneous. Undoubtedly, the snack you’d get from the vending machine may momentarily taste good, but your returning hunger and sugar crash an hour later will remind you why you need to pack a healthy snack.

As long as you keep a variation, you can rotate these snacks to keep things interesting.

The ones I am going to share are super easy to put together, easy to take with you, and they don’t need to be kept cold, so if you’re on the go, you won’t have any excuses to run to the break room for free donuts.

1. Apple Sandwich
Take an apple, cut out the core, and slice it horizontally so you can layer it with almond butter (or any other nut or seed butter,) bits of dried fruit, and chia or hemp seeds, and it’s a gourmet treat for the taste buds. Plus, with all that nutrition, you’ll feel full and completely satiated.

2. Trail Mix
I love the variety with trail mix, there are so many different types you can create. Switch it up each week to keep things interesting. You can either buy the trail mix Prana and Central Roast are my favourite clean brands (Prana is available at Costco for a great $) or you can mix up a great big batch at home on the weekend and portion it out into ¼-cup servings.

Bag those up and have them ready to go. Stash them in your purse or gym bag, and you’ll never have a reason to eat unhealthy snacks again. Choose your own nuts, dried fruits, and other tidbits, plus you can add seasonings to make it even more exciting so you’ll never grow bored. Savory or sweet, what will it be?

3. Roasted Chickpeas
Add spice to make them extra tasty, or even try them with a mild, ranch flavor. However you roast them, you’ll forget all about chips. You can snack on these guilt-free and get all the fantastic antioxidant benefits to boot. You can find these in most grocery stores now and even in Winners/Homesense.

4. Hummus Pockets
Grab a whole grain pita (I like the Ozery Bakery brand available at most grocery stores & Costco) and stuff it with hummus. Add cucumber slices, carrot shreds, and anything else you like. You can prep your veggies at the beginning of the week so it can be a quick grab-and-stuff snack to run out the door with. For a grain-free option, use large lettuce leaves instead.

5. Baked Sweet Potato Chips
All you need is a good-sized sweet potato, a little olive oil, and sea salt, or a little curry powder if you’re adventurous. Slice thin and bake for 40 minutes at 275F. Flip them over, and bake 40 more minutes and you’ll have heavenly preservative-free and healthy chips to snack on for the week.

6. Scaled-Down Deli Snack Box
If you tend to flock to certain chains for coffee and café eats, try making your own protein-filled box to go. Make it full-size to serve as lunch, or create a smaller version for a snack. Take it to Pinterest to find some perfect box combinations for your preferred way of eating — there are lots to choose from or check out my recipe for your very own Deli Snack Box.

With snacks like these, you’ll never want to stray from your healthy path.
What are your go-to snacks currently? Mine are Prana Kilamanjaro trail mix, fruit and a hot cocoa elixir with collagen & nut butter.

Foods That Cause Bloating & What You Can Eat Instead

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With so many different and contradictory claims when it comes to eating healthy, it can be hard to know what to eat and what to avoid.  This confusion leads so many to throw their hands up altogether and feel those feelings of “why even try?!”

The thing is we are all different, or I like to say unique. What is one persons health food can be another’s poison.

Even foods touted as healthy can still cause you discomfort.  Bloating is our bodies attempt to let us know it disagrees with something we gave it and can be a big clue to the types of foods you should cut down on or avoid. Remember symptoms are our body’s language, it’s way of communicating with us.

Here are a few of the main culprits when it comes to foods that can cause bloating…

  1. Beans

Beans are great for protein and good carbs, but many of them contain a type of sugar in the FODMAP group (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols). If you have digestive issues, beans can cause gas as they digest which gives you that unpleasant, bloated belly. Soaking the beans can usually help, but if you’re in a hurry, choose pinto or black beans — they’re easier to digest.

  1. Lentils

Another high protein legume with loads of fiber, lentils can also bring on the bloat. Choosing the light-colored lentils is a better option for keeping that bloating under control.

  1. Wheat

Whole wheat has always touted as a healthier alternative, but it doesn’t sit well with a lot of people due to the gluten it contains. If you have a sensitivity to gluten, your gut will show it by bloating after consuming wheat products. Wheat also has FODMAPs, as we discussed above, so if you’ve shown a tendency to bloat after eating wheat products, you should look for gluten-free options like quinoa, buckwheat, pure oats, or things made with almond or coconut flour.

  1. Cruciferous veggies

While cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts are super healthy, they can lead to stomach inflation. Cooking them makes them much easier to digest, but if that still doesn’t seem to help, focus more on spinach, lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, and sweet potatoes.

  1. Garlic and onions

These two are great for flavoring just about anything you can cook up in your kitchen. If eating either of them raw sets you off, you should make sure they’re cooked first.  If that still doesn’t do the trick, you should try swapping them out for fresh herbs like thyme, basil, chives, or parsley to keep your dishes flavorful.

  1. Dairy Products

If you’ve noticed bloating coming on after eating yogurt, cheese, butter, or drinking milk, switch to lactose-free dairy products to get all the flavor without the agony.  Many people cannot process dairy well, in fact, it has been estimated that seven million Canadians suffer from lactose intolerance.1, so give dairy-free a shot and see how much better you feel. Milk, in particular, has many other alternatives like almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, or cashew milk. Check out my recipe for Homemade Cashew Milk that can be made in under 10 minutes!

Just because certain foods are healthy doesn’t mean they are helping you out. If you frequently bloat after eating, keep a journal of what you eat (like we talked about in last weeks blog) and write down when you get bloated. You’ll be able to identify the offender, learn more about your body and the best foods to feed it.

Do certain things tend to bloat you more than others? Hit reply and let me know what your problem foods are.  I may have some useful tricks up my sleeve for you!

 

Reference:

1. Canadian Digestive Health Foundation. http://www.cdhf.ca/en/disorders/details/id/13

These Easy Tips Can Help You Quit Overeating

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Whether it be emotionally charged, out of boredom, or pure mindlessness while at the table — overeating is something we’ve all done at some point.

Our culture tends to overeat in general with larger portions than ever, but you’d be surprised how much smaller of a portion you can eat and feel satisfied.  Somewhere along the way, we’ve been programmed to eat until we are full, instead of eating enough to satisfy our hunger and return to neutral.

My Grandma was of the World War II generation and so she had brought up my Mum never to waste food and that included eating everything that was on your plate and that habit was passed down to me. It didn’t matter whether I was full or not, my goal was to always clear my plate and that was one of the biggest struggles for me to overcome with my eating.

Whatever reason it may be to you, there are some simple tricks you can use on a daily basis to make sure you’re more mindful of your consumption and keep things at a healthy level.

Some of my favorite tricks are…

  1. Drink more water

This may sound like a no-brainer, but the majority of people just do not drink adequate amounts of water.

Dehydration accounts for countless ailments and symptoms we encounter on a regular basis, and you may not even be thinking your water intake is related. For example, hunger and cravings are often overcome by drinking a big glass of water. So whether it be getting a smart water bottle that’ll remind you to drink enough water, using a water intake app, or keeping your bottle by your side throughout the day — do whatever is necessary to stay properly hydrated. You’ll find your cravings disappearing, and you’ll be less likely to overeat.

  1. Don’t eat while distracted

Whether it’s in front of the TV or while playing with your phone on your lunch break, distracted eating can cause you to eat more than you were planning to eat. Even if you only have a limited portion in front of you, you won’t feel satisfied when you’re done, making you more likely to grab something unhealthy to “fill” you up the rest of the way.

How many times have you sat down in front of the TV, your phone or laptop eating something only to realise only a short while later that it’s all gone. Did you even taste or smell the food? Be mindful when you eat, and you’ll find that satisfaction.

  1. Write it down

Sometimes, we’re unaware that we’re overeating, which can be even worse. Keep a food journal with you and write down every little thing you eat, even if it seems minuscule or unimportant. It also helps to note how you’re feeling so you can correct behaviors once you spot a pattern. There are lots of online apps you can use but i’m old school and like the paper and pen variety – here’s a great food journal you can find on amazon.

  1. Focus on your portions

Instead of putting all the food on the table for the whole family to grab, portion it out, at least for yourself. You should have a well-rounded meal with half your plate veggies, followed by a lean protein, and then a healthy carb such as whole grains or starchy veggies.

Choose a smaller plate too so you’ll trick yourself into thinking you’re eating a more significant portion. Our side plates were dinner sized plates a few decades ago, so go back to using a side plate if you need to.

If you still feel hungry after eating your whole plate, start with another serving on veggies, that will fill you up.

If you are a snacker, make sure your snacks contain fat, fiber and protein to help keep you satisfied and those cravings at bay. Try out these Double Chocolate Mint Energy Balls, just one or two of these will hit the spot!

  1. Take it home

And finally, I can’t forget a tip about restaurants.  Even with healthy lifestyles, there will be times you go out to eat with friends or family, we tend to eat or order on average once a week. This was another habit that was hard from me because growing up I always associated eating out with a treat and therefore used to always overindulge whether it was in the amount I ate or the choices I made.

Don’t get me wrong, even I, a Nutritionist doesn’t want a plain old boring salad, a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be bland or boring. There are some awesome hearty salads and buddha bowls now available in most restaurants and you can always make changes to your option as in hold off the carbs and have extra veggies or have a lettuce wrap instead of a bun.

Make a healthy choice and ask your server to box up half the order from the start or see if someone is willing to split the portion with you. If not, you’ll have another perfect portion for tomorrow, which will make you look forward to lunch! Ordering a healthy appetizer and pairing it with a side salad is another great way not to overeat, but still, leave satisfied.

These little things make a big difference in keeping you from overeating, and they’re so simple to do, they’re effortless.

What’s your trigger for overeating — boredom? Stress? Zoned out in front of the TV?  Hit reply and let me know.