5 Ways Gratitude Impacts Your Health

Gratitude Header

When we think about our health, we think in terms of what we’re eating, what we’re drinking, how much we’re exercising — but we rarely think about our health being related to what we think about.

If this is not something you consider regularly, start really digging deep into the idea that your thoughts, your attitude, and your mental tone have an incredible amount of power over your health.

The best place to start is with gratitude.  We all have something to be grateful for, so it’s the perfect place to begin.  Here’s why gratitude is so essential to your health…

  1. It boosts feelings of satisfaction

Show your gratitude by putting it in writing. Get out your thank you cards and start writing. Write them to your kids’ teachers. Write one to your parents, to your spouse, your best friend. Writing letters of gratitude will ensure you feel good inside and out, and you’ll be spreading those good feelings to those you’re writing to.

  1. It builds relationships

Find ways to weave in expressing gratitude for those things people do for you that you appreciate. Even if it’s just your kids putting the dishes in the dishwasher for you — express your gratitude. It will motivate them to keep doing more, and it will reduce your stress by seeing the good in things.

  1. It helps your mental wellness

Taking a moment to be thankful for the things you have despite the challenges is good for your mental health and well-being. Sometimes it can be hard to see the good things in life, so keep a journal if necessary and write things down. When you feel low, you can flip through it and find something to smile about. As an added bonus, it boosts more than your mood by increasing energy levels too. One of my favourite tools is the Five Minute Journal as this focuses on daily gratitude. It’s available on amazon.ca.

  1. You’ll sleep better

When you find things to be grateful for instead of focusing on the negativity, it allows your mind to relax. This, in turn, leads to better sleep. Try writing a gratitude list before you go to bed to use this power to your advantage so you can fall asleep faster.

  1. It can help you with your exercise too

With recognition for things that you’re grateful for, you feel happier. Feeling happier gives you more energy, and hence, it will keep you feeling good about your workouts too.  Sometimes the only thing we need is the motivation to START the workout, and a positive attitude helps get you there.

Don’t mistake this for feeling like you have to be positive 24/7.  Other emotions are real, necessary, and deserve to be honored. By all means, feel your feelings and healthily work through them — but choosing to practice gratitude daily will positively shift things.

Let’s start practicing now!

Hit reply and let me know one thing you’re grateful for today. It can be as big or as small as you want — nothing is off limits.

Can’t wait to hear from you. If you need help with this and other diet & lifestyle areas in your life. Hit reply and we can set up a free 15 minute discovery call to discuss how I can help you.

Now, if you are one of those people that has lots of leftover turkey, check out my recipe for Leftover Turkey Apple Breakfast Hash although you could eat this delicious meal any time of the day. Enjoy!

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What Does a Balanced Meal Look Like?

When i first meet with a client, I ask them to track at least 3 days worth of food intake before they see me. I don’t do this so i can judge what they are eating (i am a 100% judge free zone!) Instead, i do this so i can see whether their meals are balanced.

By balanced, i mean are they giving their body everything it needs to a) survive and b) function optimally?

Firstly, I look at the quality of their food. Where is it coming from? Is the majority coming from a real food source? That is always my #1 Rule – Eat Real Food! For those of you that have seen my office, you will have seen my Real Food Manifesto front and center above my desk. If you don’t eat real food, you are eating chemicals and your body will eventually get sick, it’s as simple as that.

The goal of eating is to nourish your body with nutrients therefore the quality of the food you eat far outweighs how many calories it contains. So many people are just counting calories and not looking at the quality of the food they are eating. A 100 calorie chocolate bar does not nourish your body like 100 calories from almonds would. Eating sweet potato fries is not the same as eating sweet potato chips, although they both come from sweet potatoes. Not only does real food contain more nutrients, but it will fill you up and therefore you won’t need to eat as much.

Secondly, I look at whether they are getting all 3 macro-nutrients in throughout their day. Carbs, fats and protein are all vital for a healthy body so a balanced meal is incorporating all of these together at your meals. Your body can’t tell what specific food you ate i.e. quinoa or sweet potato, all it recognizes is whether it contains carbs, fats or protein.

If you eat a salad with no dressing or protein, you will be hungry again a short while after whereas if you add some chicken, avocado and dressing that will keep you satisfied for alot longer. If you had that 100 calorie chocolate bar we talked about earlier for a snack, your blood sugar will crash in 20 minutes and you will be “hangry” whereas if you had some cashews and a couple of squares of good quality (min 70%) dark chocolate you will be satisfied until your next meal.

Are you eating a balanced diet? If not and you want some help fine-tuning your diet then give me a shout. I’d love to chat with you more.

Now, there is no denying that Fall is here, the leaves are changing, the cooler temperatures have arrived and the farms and grocery stores are full of pumpkins. This means that it’s time for my Pumpkin Spice Elixir to appear. Click here if you are a pumpkin lover and want this recipe. I will have this for breakfast and it will keep me full right through until lunch as it’s packed with fat, fiber and protein to help keep my blood sugar balanced.

Clean Eating at Costco

Costco shop

The first time i went to Costco was with my husband when i moved to Canada and we walked out spending hundreds of dollars – i was in shock. I didn’t go back for a long time as it was just the 2 of us and we didn’t eat alot of the food there but in the last few years since our family has grown it has become one of my favourite places to shop for groceries.

They have begun to dip their toes in the world of real food and clean eating and so I thought it was time i share my Costco shopping list with you.

Fruits & Vegetables

  • Anything goes here as it is all REAL FOOD!

Meat/Poultry/Seafood

  • They do organic chicken & beef but I still tend to get my meat from local farms in our area.

Cooler Items

  • Fontaine Hummus
  • Happy Planet Soups
  • Dr Brew or GTs Kombucha
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Butter
  • Almond Milk
  • Babybel
  • Cheese
  • Goat Cheese

Freezer Items

  • Frozen Fruit (I love the Nature’s Touch brand)
  • Frozen Vegetables
  • Frozen Edamame
  • Smoked Salmon

Breads

  • Silver Hills Sprouted Grain bread
  • Stonemill bread
  • Ozery Bakery Morning Rounds & Pita

Snack Foods

  • Simply Protein Bars
  • Kind Bars
  • Prana Trail Mix (Kilimanjaro is my favourite!)
  • R W Garcia Beet or Turmeric Crackers
  • Mary’s Organic Crackers
  • Kale Chips
  • Coconut Slices

Dry Goods

  • Tru Roots Ancient Grain Pasta
  • GoGo Quinoa Pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Chickpea or Bean Pasta
  • Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats
  • Bean Soup Mix
  • Dried Fruit (figs, dates, raisins, apricots)
  • Dutch Processed Baking Cocoa
  • Almond Flour
  • Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • Chia Seed
  • Hemp Seed
  • Flaxseed
  • Raw Pumpkin Seeds
  • Raw Cashews
  • Raw Almonds
  • Almond Butter
  • Crofters Jam
  • Unsweetened Applesauce
  • Organic Diced Tomatoes
  • Tomato Paste
  • Tomato Sauce (Passata in the glass jar)
  • Coconut Milk
  • Black Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Light Tuna
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Chosen Foods or Primal Mayo
  • San J Tamari Sauce
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Spices

I think that’s it for now, the great thing is that every time i hit Costco, which is normally every 3 months or so, there is always something new. What are your favourite Costco finds? Hit reply and let me know I would love to find out if i’m missing out on something delicious?

Now you guys know by now that peaches are my favourite fruit but apples come a very close second with honeycrisp being at the top of my list! We are right in the middle of apple season so I thought I would share my recipe for Slow Cooker Applesauce, it’s super easy and way tastier than the versions you find in the stores. I’ll be sharing lots of other apple recipes soon, stay tuned!

What is Intermittent Fasting?

If you follow the health or weight loss trends then you’ve probably heard of intermittent fasting, but do you know what it means?

To be honest, when i first heard the term i was “here we go, another fasting/detox diet” but I was wrong. Once i did my research and found out what it was all about it sparked my interest and thought it was worth a try.

Intermittent Fasting is exactly what the name implies, it’s fasting but not continuously. It is NOT a diet. By fasting for a period of time each day it allows your glucose and glycogen stores to be fully utilized before the next meal is eaten. There are different opinions on how long this takes but it’s generally between 12 and 16 hours. For example, if you don’t eat between 8pm and 8am then you have completed 12 hours of intermittent fasting.

There are some other popular ways of fasting. One is called the “Warrior Diet” and involves all your daily eating is carried out in a four-hour window, leaving 20 hours for fastingThere is also “5:2 fasting” where eating is done in a 12 hour period daily (e.g., between 8:00 AM and PM) for five days weekly, with an all-day fast performed on two, non-consecutive days (e.g., Tuesday and Thursday) weekly. These can often be too extreme for beginners so I would definitely ease in by starting with a daily 12 hour fast.

If you are only eating between a specific 8 or 12 hour period in the day, the key is to ensure that you eat sufficiently during that time. Just because you may be eating during a smaller window, that doesn’t give you permission to eat less or to not eat at all. If you are only going to have 2 meals a day then they need to be made of real nutrient rich food to nourish the body and be balanced (check out next weeks blog if you’re not sure what that means.)

Research is beginning to emerge on the benefits of this type of fasting in relation to weight loss, fasting glucose levels, gut microbiome and lifestyle habits such as sleep.

From my own personal experience, I have been doing 12 hour intermittent fasting for a few months now and have noticed that my blood sugar and hunger are definitely more under control i.e. I feel more satisfied and have less cravings and the quality of my sleep has also improved.

If you have tried intermittent fasting, I would love to hear from you with your thoughts?

In the meantime, check out my recipe for Instant Pot Meatballs – they are super easy and quick to make, the meatballs cooked in just 5 minutes, yes you heard right, 5 minutes. I couldn’t believe it either!

References:

https://blog.paleohacks.com/intermittent-fasting-benefits/#

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28715993

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5394735/

 

Medical Conditions & Weight Gain

If you have pounds that just won’t go anywhere no matter what you try, you may want to look into a few things that are medically related.

A common example is underactive thyroid. Thyroid hormone is closely related to metabolism, and a low functioning thyroid can mean a slower metabolism, translating into fewer calories burned.

Some women also retain weight because of estrogen-dominance and symptoms of estrogen dominance can include:

  • PMS
  • Too much body fat around the hips
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • History of gallstones, varicose veins, uterine fibroids, cervical dysplasia, endometriosis or ovarian cysts

Some medication can also lead to weight gain. That includes certain steroids, some antidepressants, anti-seizure medication, diabetes drugs, high blood pressure drugs, as well as certain heartburn drugs.

Of course, for anything related to prescription medication, make sure you discuss your condition with your doctor before making any decisions.

Food sensitivities can also cause the body to retain up to 5 – 8 pounds of water very rapidly. An elimination diet, with the guidance of a trained health professional such as myself, is a good way to find out if food sensitivities are causing weight gain for you. Some usual suspects include gluten, dairy, egg (egg white has higher allergenic potential than egg yolk), and soy.

If any of the above information relates to you, I highly recommend getting further testing through your local Naturopath such as Dr Danielle so you can pinpoint what your sensitivities are.

Has some of this information resonated with you? Are you ready to commit to improving your health but feel like you can’t do it on you own? I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to. Allow me to be your guide, mentor and coach to help you create a healthy lifestyle that you love and that is sustainable. Hit reply and let’s chat.

In the meantime, check out my recipe for 15 Minute Halibut with Dill Pesto. Enjoy!

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!

 

 

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