Nutrients and Nourishment

Nutrients and Nourishment

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As I’m currently working towards a Fitness Nutrition Specialist Certification, I thought I would share some of the information I’m learning with you via these monthly articles.  If we can become better informed about foods and nutrients, it should certainly empower us to make better decisions in our day to day eating and exercise habits.  This first article is just a quick overview of our food and what it contains.  In the coming months we will look more deeply into each of these elements to truly understand how our bodies use them.

First of all think about this?  Do you eat to live, or live to eat?  I have heard this question posed in regards to work – and in this context it is trying to ascertain the same thing.  Are you focusing too heavily on the joy of eating versus the importance of good and healthy nourishment for your body.

Many things influence the way that we eat.  Our age, gender, genetic make-up, lifestyle, family and cultural background affect our food choices.  We use food to project an image, show our creativity, build relationships, show friendship and express feelings.

We eat to cope with stress, or perhaps we don’t eat when we are stressed.  We eat as a reward when we have done a good thing, or we don’t eat as punishment for personal failure.  It would be interesting to figure out specifically what dictates our food preferences, and then to compare that with what we should be eating daily for optimal health.

Our food preferences can begin very early in life.  Experiences we have had as a child cause us to like or dislike a food, and that can carry all the way to adulthood.  To some degree what you eat says a lot about who you are.  Age is certainly a factor.  Infants with wide exposure to various foods will usually try new foods whilst pre-school children usually have a fear of trying new foods.  Contrastingly school age children begin to be braver about trying new things and teenagers tend to be influenced in their food choices by their piers.

Look at which foods appeal to your senses.  Taste, smell and texture play a roll – some people dislike certain foods just based on the texture.  Color, moisture and temperature can also play a roll.  Some people prefer salty foods to sweet, and others the reverse.  Cognitive influences come from learned food habits which can go back to childhood.

If we were to generalize, we would see that in the typical American diet the most common grain is white bread.  The favorite vegetable is the potato (usually in the form of French fries), and beef seems to be the favorite protein.  As a whole, Americans eat few fruits and whole grains, focusing more on cereals, snack foods, juices and sodas.  It seems many Americans do not know what they should eat, and even when they do learn what to eat it doesn’t necessarily make a difference to their daily food choices.

Some other factors that effect food choices are:

Environmental – where do you live, hot or cold, you will choose different foods depending on the weather

Religion – many religions have rules in regards to foods not to be consumed, or certain times when foods are limited.

Culture – certainly the culture you are born into plays a part.  If you are like me and were born in another country, you carry many of your food and beverage habits with you to the new country – I’m specifically thinking of my 4pm tea time which my husband has also adopted.  

Lifestyle – this plays a large part.  How much time do you have to cook? What foods are available at your workplace?  Does your schedule cause you to resort to convenience foods, or do you eat out several times a week?

Economics – What types of food can we afford or not afford?  It used to be the refined foods that were available only to the wealthy, and the poor folk grew what they ate and raised their own meat etc.  These days things are flipped around to where the refined foods are the cheapest, and the organic and more healthful choices are much more expensive.

Our goal should be to focus first and foremost on nourishing our bodies for optimal health.  We can do this in a way that will still allow us to enjoy eating and look forward to our meals, perhaps even more so.  Nourishment is necessary for growth and development, for cell and tissue maintenance,  to provide fuel for physical activities, and to properly regulate our body processes.

There are 6 classes of nutrients:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Lipids (fats/oils)
  • Water
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

These nutrients can be divided into organic and inorganic.  Vitamins, carbohydrates, lipids and proteins are all organic and contain carbon in their biological structure, whereas water and minerals are inorganic with no carbon present.

  1. Inorganic nutrients:  Water, minerals.  Inorganic nutrients have a simple structure containing just one element
  2. organic nutrients: Fats, Proteins, Carbohydrates and Vitamins.  Organic nutrients have more complex chemical structures.  Carbohydrates, lipids and proteins are made of smaller building blocks and vitamins have an elaborate structure of compounds.

Foods generally do not contain just one nutrient, although we might consider meat a protein and bread a carbohydrate – we are really generalizing based on the fact that protein is the largest part of meat and carbohydrate is the largest part of bread.  However, there are usually small amounts of a variety of nutrients in most foods.  A lot of carbohydrates also provide our body with fiber which is not technically an essential nutrient, but is very important for our overall health.

The purposes of nutrients:

  1. To aid in body processes
  2. To contribute to cell and body structure
  3. To supply energy

Carbohydrates

Main dietary sources: (Plant based):  Starches, sugars, grains, vegetables, dry beans, peas, legumes, fruits.

Main purpose of carbohydrates: To provide your body with energy.

If thinking of water makes you think about hydrating, then the word carbo-hydrate tells you the exact composition of this nutrient.  Carbohydrate is made up of Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and is an important source of fuel for the body.

Carbohydrates are converted in the body to glucose, a simple sugar compound.  Glucose is what our body uses to provide energy for cells and tissues.   Carbohydrates provide the body with it’s preferred energy source.  In the absence of enough carbohydrates it can use fats and proteins, but using alternative energy sources can deplete our bodies since fats and proteins have other important jobs that will be neglected if they are called upon to become a carbohydrate ‘stand-in’!!

Fats (Lipids)

Main dietary sources:  Fats and oils, natural fats found in meat and fish, dairy products and other less obvious plant sources such as avocado and coconut, olives, nuts and seeds.

Main purpose of fat: The body uses fat as a fuel source, and fat is the major storage form of energy in the body. Fat also has many other important functions in the body, and a moderate amount is needed in the diet for good health. Fats in food come in several forms, including saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.

Lipids are substances known as fats and oils.  But they can also be fat like substances in foods such as phospholipids, and lipoproteins.   Fats are organic compounds containing carbon hydrogen and oxygen.

Another type of fat:  triglyceride. Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals.  Triglycerides are an important fuel source for the body.  Also triglycerides, lipoproteins and phospholipids have other important jobs in the body, such as providing structure for body cells, carrying fat soluble vitamins and providing cholesterol.  Our bodies need cholesterol for important metabolic processes but we don’t need to consume it, our body can make enough using other compounds.  Of course we all know that too much blood cholesterol is not good for us so we need to keep it all in balance.

Proteins

Main dietary sources:  Meat and fish, nuts, dairy products, Soy

Main purpose of protein:  Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.

Proteins are organic compounds made of smaller building blocks called amino acids.  Unlike carbohydrates and fats, amino acids contain nitrogen as well as carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.  Some amino acids also contain sulfur.  The amino acids you get from protein combined with those in the body to make hundreds of different body proteins. We can divide these proteins into two groups:

  1. Structural proteins:  Build and maintain body structures
  2. Functional proteins:  Regulate body processes

Vitamins

Vitamins are organic compounds that contain carbon, hydrogen and sometimes nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur.   Some vitamin functions in the body include:

  • Regulating body processes such as energy production, blood clotting and calcium balance.
  • Keeping organs and tissues healthy.   
  • Extracting energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

Vitamins divide into two groups:  fat soluble and water soluble.

Fat soluble:  A, D, E and K. Fat soluble vitamins can be stored in larger amounts in the body, and are all transported in the same way.

Water soluble:  C and 8 B vitamins: Thiamin(B1) Riboflavin(B2) Niacin(B3) Pyridoxine(B6) Cobalamin(B12) Folate, Pantothenic acid and Biotin.  Most interact with the energy metabolism pathways.

Vitamins are in a variety of foods.  If you have a balanced diet you will get enough of each and can rarely overdose on any.  But if you overdo supplementation, some vitamins can become toxic and cause serious issues.

Minerals

Minerals are inorganic substances.  16 essential to health:  

Microminerals: 

  • Iron
  • zinc
  • copper
  • manganese
  • molybdenum
  • selenium
  • iodine
  • fluoride

Minerals have diverse functions:

  • Structural roles – calcium phosphorus, fluoride
  • Regulatory roles – control of fluid balance, muscle contraction

Water

Water chemically the simplest nutrient.  While we can live sometime without food, we cannot live long without water.  60% of our body is water so it is essential.  Water is used for:

  • Temperature control
  • Lubrication of joins
  • Transportation of water soluble vitamins and waste

Sources of water:  Water itself is our best source.  We should drink about half of our body weight in fluid oz per day, not including any we sweat out.  We also gain some hydration from beverages, fruits and vegetables

Energy sources: 

Carbohydrates, Proteins, Lipids (but only as triglycerides)

  • Carbohydrates = 4 Cal/gram
  • Protein = 4 Cal/gram
  • Fat = 9 Cal/gram
  • Alcohol = 7 Cal/gram

Sorting fact from fiction

Finally, I’m sure you are constantly hearing of new claims regarding the healthfulness or lack thereof of certain foods, the latest fad diet etc… the media is very good at overstating any new finding that is out there.  All this contradicting information can be very confusing.  How do we sort out the scientific facts from so much misinformation?  First of all consider the source.  Usually news stories are sensationalized, over simplified, facts are distorted, omitted or modified.  Also beware of anything that has the following claims:

  • Quick fix
  • Dire warnings of dancer
  • Claims that are too good to be true
  • Simplistic conclusions
  • Dramatic statements

There is still much to learn about food and its healthful properties.  As scientists continue to conduct studies we will find out more about things that are helpful and harmful and as we learn we will adjust as we have always done.  Just remember this, what you eat really does matter.  Your diet will likely effect your quality of life and ultimately could effect the length of your life.  Making good and healthful daily choices will give you the best chance to live a long and healthy life, continuing to do all the things you love.

New Year’s Resolutions

Turn your New Year’s Resolutions into SMART Goals

New Year … New You!

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Christmas is over, and now it’s time to think about the new year.  That’s the time of year when we all tend to begin thinking about what we would like to accomplish in this new year, and what we would like to leave behind us.  Usually we are looking to get rid of bad habits and pick up some good habits, but often this is easier said than done.  Here are some helpful hints to get you started on that New Years resolution:

You may have heard of  SMART goals.  Specific goals.  Measurable goals.  Attainable goals.  Relevant goals.  Timely Goals.  The acronym just helps to organize our thoughts in a way that can allow us to move towards the things we want to achieve in a realistic way.

1. SPECIFIC.  Make a list of SPECIFIC things you would like to accomplish.  For example:

  • Lose 25 1bs by the end of 2019.
  • Give up smoking by the end of 2019
  • I will no longer be stressed
  • Find a new job

These are your end goals, they are specific and not vague.

2. MEASURABLE.  You have to be able to measure your progress and see that you are continually and successfully working towards your goals.  For example, working towards your weight loss goal is MEASURED by weigh ins that show you are losing weight.  You can MEASURE your smoking habits based on decreasing how much your smoke regularly and consistently until you are ready to stop altogether.   Becoming less stressed can be measured by your general state of mind improving week by week.  Taking steps towards finding a new job is evidence that you are working towards this goal.  When thinking about how measurable your goals are, is where you begin to break down specifically HOW you are going to get from where you are now, to where you want to be.  For example:

  • To lose 251bs in a year you need to: change your eating habits, begin an exercise regime.
  • Next take steps towards those things.  Enroll in an exercise program, begin a new eating regime.
  • To stop smoking:  Begin to reduce cigarettes daily, set a date when you will stop and use the patch or some other form of smoking cessation help to stop completely.
  • To decrease stress identify what stresses you out, and try to change those situations.
  • To find a new job you just need to begin looking or interviewing.

3. ATTAINABLE.  Your goals have to be realistic and attainable.  You don’t want to give yourself an impossible task by an unrealistic date, and set yourself up to fail.  Be sure that what you are setting out to do is possible.

4. RELEVANT.  Your goal has to be something that is worthwhile.  Something that you are willing and able to work towards and once achieved will be worth the effort.

5. TIMELY.  Above all you should impose time constraints on your goals.  Rather than leaving them open ended make sure you have a time schedule attached to each goal.  Setting a deadline will give you motivation and a sense of urgency in achieving your goals.

perhaps you want to share your goals with a friend, or you and a friend share your goals with each other and have regular check ins to see how you are doing working towards each goals.  Accountability can go a long way towards maintaining motivation as you move forward toward your goals.

How to live your best life and be your best self

Healthy-Habits

Do you love your life?  Do you enjoy every moment of every day?  Do you look around you and feel how blessed or lucky you are?  If not, why not?   

Conversely, do you wish the days and weeks away until the weekend, or the vacation, or the summer?  Do you find you have more things to complain about than to be thankful for?  Do you have a negative self image?

What happens if life hands you lemons?  Do you make lemonade?

Being a strong and healthy person involves much more than diet and exercise.  In order to live your best healthiest life and to be your best and healthiest self you have to ask yourself a few important questions:

  1. What are the things in my life that really make me happy?
  2. What are the things in my life that make me unhappy or cause me stress?
  3. What changes can I make in my life that will make me happier?

Answering these three questions will help you start to find the path towards a happier, healthier and more fulfilled life.

There might be some things in your life that don’t make you happy but that you can’t change, so the alternative is to try to adjust them in such a way that they become less stressful and more tolerable.  Increasing the positive aspects of your life will inevitably help to decrease the negatives.  Also adjusting your mindset, or the way you think about something can go a long way toward helping adjust a negative situation into a more positive one.  Back to the saying ‘if life gives you lemons, make lemonade’.

If I made a list of the things that make me happy it would be a very long one!  Over time I have adjusted things in my life to the point that I really love my everyday life, and there are very few negatives.

In order to live your best, happiest, healthiest and most fulfilled life you have to be able to say ‘no’.  Say ‘no’ to those things that will cause you stress and take time away from those things that you truly enjoy and love.   

Here is a little formula to get you started:

First, list the things that you may either love about your life, and the things that make you feel good and happy.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Your children/grandchildren
  2. Your spouse/partner
  3. Specific hobbies ie. Tennis, scrapbooking, cooking.
  4. Volunteering
  5. Workouts at the gym
  6. Eating healthy foods
  7. Losing weight
  8. Feeling stronger
  9. Specific friends who make you feel positive

Second, list the things in your life that cause you unhappiness or stress or that you don’t like.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Work – be specific if it’s something at work or the whole job itself
  2. People – who in your life has a negative influence, causes stress
  3. Juggling too many things – be specific (volunteering, other commitments)
  4. Cleaning/washing/yard work
  5. Your hair style
  6. Negative body image
  7. Family relationships
  8. Lack of close friends, community
  9. Unhealthy eating
  10. Lack of time for yourself
  11. Lack of exercise
  12. Negative self image
  13. Lack of sleep

Third, make a list of things you can change for the better realistically.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Plan more exercise into my week
  2. Buy healthier foods and work on eating better and less
  3. Go to bed earlier
  4. Get a new hair do, get a facial
  5. Join a church or a community group
  6. Make time for myself
  7. Hire a cleaner or Gardner
  8. Get rid of excess volunteering that takes time from family & increases stress
  9. Assign meals to different family members to reduce burden on me
  10. Actively work to improve negative family relationships
  11. Job – can I change jobs or improve my current situation
  12. People – spend more time with the people who encourage you and make you feel good about yourself and your life.  Or those who give you good advice and are always in your corner. Conversely, if there are people in your life who cause you stress, then perhaps it’s time to let them go.  Surrounding ourselves with negative people will tend to make us feel more negative ourselves

Forth, make a list of the things that you cannot change but can improve upon.  For example:

  1. My job.  Think of ways to improve your time at work if you can’t change jobs.  Perhaps go part time, or think of other ways to improve your work day.
  2. If you have small children (which can be stressful),  perhaps you can  hire a sitter to take some time for yourself to exercise, go out with friends or your husband, or go get a massage.  Try to make it a weekly occasion.
  3. People.  If the people who cause you stress are family members or work colleagues,  perhaps try to lessen your contact with them where possible, or actively work on influencing them in a positive way rather than allowing their negativity to rub off on you.
  4. Daily responsibilities.  If you hate cleaning but cannot afford to hire a cleaner then maybe spread out the responsibilities to other family members, or try to make cleaning day a fun experience.

Fifth, take steps toward making the changes you have listed.  Do it slowly and step by step you will find yourself feeling better, healthier and happier.  The test is to ask yourself a few simple questions:

  1. When you wake up in the morning, are you looking forward to your day?
  2. Are you thinking good and positive thoughts throughout the day?
  3. Are you spreading positivity to those around you?
  4. When you go to bed at night do you feel good about your day?
  5. Do you sleep well?
  6. Do you feel overall healthier and happier?

Of course there are going to be those things that occur in daily life to cause us stress, aggravation and sadness.  These types of feelings come and go, and if your overall daily life is a healthy and happy one, you will more quickly recover from the temporary setbacks that life often brings.  I find that our perspective has a lot to do with how we deal with life’s unexpected stresses.  Knowing that we are still so much better off than others in the world can often help us adjust our attitude, and make lemonade out of those annoying lemons.

I do feel that in every difficult situation there is something positive to be learned, even if it just helps us to grow and become stronger as a person.

In conclusion, I challenge you to take a close look at every aspect of your life.  Make the changes necessary to allow you to be your healthiest and happiest self.  We are only here for a short time, and we shouldn’t take any of it for granted.  Spread positivity to those around you, and live and love every day to the max.

Eat the Rainbow – facts about eating vegetables of different colors

Eat Real Food

A Little bit of what you fancy does you good!

My mother always used to say “a little bit of what you fancy does you good,” and I never forgot it.  I quote it to people all the time, to my children and always prefaced by ‘my mother used to say…’  My daughter suggested I use it as the name for my next blog post, so here it is!

In the context of health and wellness, I use this statement as a means to explain how important it is to eat “a little bit” of something real, rather than a lot of something chemically altered or synthetic.  In this day and age of genetically modified, chemically altered and artificially sweetened, so-called ‘low fat’ food products, it is a very important reminder to those of us who really want to eat clean and healthy, while still shedding a few pounds.

Let’s look at a few common things people tend to eat in place of something real:

Diet soda and artificial sweeteners

NO-DIET-SODA

Diet Soda – can you say oxymoron? Of course I’m going to tell you that ANY soda is bad for you.   We already know that refined sugar is bad for us, and a glass of soda contains just under 1/4 cup of sugar!  But what about diet soda?  For some years it has been hailed as something to help with weight loss.

Artificial sweeteners still have an effect on your body by triggering the release of insulin, which causes your body to store fat rather than burn it.  It can also cause you to overeat in other areas feeling that you saved calories on a sugar free soda, so can then eat a bit extra (cognitive distortion).  The American Beverage Association insists the sweeteners used in diet sodas such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharine, are fully studied and completely safe.  However, there are over 900 published studies showing that artificial sweeteners are carcinogenic.  For more details follow the link to an article by Dr. Mercola:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/15/this-artificial-sweetener-shown-to-produce-cancer-in-rats.aspx

Subsequent studies have said that there is no clear connection between artificial sweeteners and cancer, but those were also heavily funded by businesses who use artificial sweeteners in their products…

Artificial-SweetenersThe bottom line here is that it is really best to stay away from soda all together.  Look at your consumption of any sugar and/or sugar-like substances, and do your best to eliminate or at least reduce its presence in your diet.  The only safe low calorie sugar alternative is Stevia, which comes from a plant.  Personally I do not enjoy the flavor of stevia as it is much sweeter than sugar, but if you can take the taste, at least you know you are eating something natural rather than manufactured.

Getting back to the main message:  It’s far better to consume ‘a little bit’ of a natural sweetener than lots.  But it is better to stay away from chemical sweeteners altogether.  Your best options for sweetening agents are  honey, molasses, maple syrup, agave, brown sugar and stevia for a low calorie alternative.  Glucose has also been shown to be a healthy alternative, although it’s slightly less sweeter than sucrose.

natural-sweeteners

You can’t believe it’s not butter?  I can!!!

notbutter-butteritsnotSo this is a hot topic: Should we eat butter, with its high fat content, or switch to one of the many low calorie alternatives offered today?  When I was young, margarine was the big butter alternative touted to have lower saturated fat and cholesterol.  Of course years later we realized that margarine is actually packed with trans-fat, which is way worse for you!  But these days there is a new generation of butter alternatives now advertised with no trans-fat BUT they instead contain a myriad of additives and preservatives. 

Just because something is low in fat doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

thIn fact, these low fat miracle products generally have a bunch of junk in them to make them taste good—extra sugar, chemicals, additives—which in the end are much worse for you than the slightly higher fat content, and prevent your body from losing weight. Skim milk? Might as well call it sugar milk.

Take it from Dr. Oz: “Don’t drink skim milk, you don’t need to. When you take the fat out of milk, what’s left? Sugar! Skim milk is sugar milk. You want to drink 2% milk, eat 2% yogurt…people who have a little bit of fat in the yogurt lose more weight, because your body is satiated.” 

This harkens back to that cognitive distortion thing I mentioned earlier: With ‘low-cal’ products, mentally people think they can eat more, which means more of all that nasty artificial stuff in your system! Higher fat products not only don’t have all the junk added, but also make your body feel more satisfied, meaning you eat less. 

Again, this simple rule always holds true: Chemical ingredients are never a good choice!

Butter itself contains only cream and salt, and is packed with a bunch of vitamins such as Vitamin A, important for our endocrine system and maintaining good vision as well as other bodily functions.  Also vitamins E, K and D, which play a role in maintaining our cardiovascular system.  It contains Lecithin which helps our metabolism work properly, and antioxidants which protect our bodies from disease.

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This brings me back to my main point – ‘a little bit of what you fancy does you good‘ … a moderate amount of butter (maybe not Paula Deen amounts!) in our diet is much healthier than the alternatives out there.

Always go for the natural alternative and teach yourself to exercise will power to not overdo it. Part of changing the way you eat is to learn how to enjoy things in moderation, and doing so will help you enjoy those little pleasures immensely more. 

Fat free half and half and other fat free products

0003450063210_500X500And the oxymorons continue!  My first thought would be ‘what’s the point’!!!  But I assume people who buy fat free products are under the impression that fat is bad, and this is a way to save fat and calories while still enjoying a ‘fat like’ taste.  Well, that ‘fat like’ taste is created by replacing fat with corn syrup and chemical thickeners (carrageenan is most common, and has been linked with cancer in multiple studies) that create the ‘fat like’ flavor and texture.  Most fat free products are the same, instead of fat they add corn syrup and chemical additives.

Half and half is so named because it contains equal parts milk and cream—both natural products.  It’s far better to enjoy a little bit of half & half rather than a fat free alternative.

What about ‘Low fat’ products?

The recommendation for fat consumption is that we get 20%-35% of our daily calories from fat. That’s about 44 to 77 grams of fat a day assuming you eat 2,000 calories a day.  In order for your body to function properly, and your metabolism to work the way that it should, we need enough fat calories.  Saturated fat should be kept to a minimum, with mono and polyunsaturated fat making up the majority of daily fat consumption.

Here are a few foods that contain healthty fats:

  • Salmon
  • Raw nuts (roasting spoils the good oil content)
  • Avocado
  • Olive, avocado, safflower oils
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax meal

Low fat foods, much like fat free foods, often contain other ingredients to make up for the lack of fat.  The key here is to read the label. Don’t trust companies advertising “all natural; healthy; wholesome”—the fact is that these statements mean nothing, and any company can slap them on their products, regardless of whether the statements are true. If you see that the product contains chemical additives and sugars (especially high fructose corn syrup) to make up for the lack of fat, then it might not be the best choice.

diet-and-fat-free-products

The main take-away messages? 

Real food in moderation is always better than low fat, low calorie, diet alternatives. 

Reading labels is so important.  Food manufacturers are always coming up with new chemical ingredients to add to our food to make it last longer, taste better, contain less fat or sugar.  A good thing to remember is that as much as they can test these chemicals before using them, it really is only once humans have been consuming them for years that the real effects will come to light.  

-It’s so much better to try to avoid additives and preservatives, artificial sweeteners and fat substitutes.  Buy natural whole ingredients and either make your own food or choose brands of prepared food that do not contain additives and preservatives.

I try to prepare all my food from scratch so I am in charge of what they contain.   I’m also less likely to eat them as much because they take work, effort and time to prepare.   On occasion I even like to make my own chocolate from scratch,  I maybe eat 2-3 squares of good dark chocolate in a day when I have it available … a square at a time with a nice cup of British tea!  I would eat one square of chocolate in place of a dessert after a meal, so I get a little sweet taste without overdoing my sugar intake.

I rest my case, a little bit of what you fancy does you good.

“Moderation.  Small helping.  Sample a little bit of everything.  These are the secrets of happiness and good health” 

 -Julia Child

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Eat Real Food

Eat Real Food

A Little bit of what you fancy does you good!

My mother always used to say “a little bit of what you fancy does you good,” and I never forgot it.  I quote it to people all the time, to my children and always prefaced by ‘my mother used to say…’  My daughter suggested I use it as the name for my next blog post, so here it is!

In the context of health and wellness, I use this statement as a means to explain how important it is to eat “a little bit” of something real, rather than a lot of something chemically altered or synthetic.  In this day and age of genetically modified, chemically altered and artificially sweetened, so-called ‘low fat’ food products, it is a very important reminder to those of us who really want to eat clean and healthy, while still shedding a few pounds.

Let’s look at a few common things people tend to eat in place of something real:

Diet soda and artificial sweeteners

NO-DIET-SODA

Diet Soda – can you say oxymoron? Of course I’m going to tell you that ANY soda is bad for you.   We already know that refined sugar is bad for us, and a glass of soda contains just under 1/4 cup of sugar!  But what about diet soda?  For some years it has been hailed as something to help with weight loss.

Artificial sweeteners still have an effect on your body by triggering the release of insulin, which causes your body to store fat rather than burn it.  It can also cause you to overeat in other areas feeling that you saved calories on a sugar free soda, so can then eat a bit extra (cognitive distortion).  The American Beverage Association insists the sweeteners used in diet sodas such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharine, are fully studied and completely safe.  However, there are over 900 published studies showing that artificial sweeteners are carcinogenic.  For more details follow the link to an article by Dr. Mercola:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/15/this-artificial-sweetener-shown-to-produce-cancer-in-rats.aspx

Subsequent studies have said that there is no clear connection between artificial sweeteners and cancer, but those were also heavily funded by businesses who use artificial sweeteners in their products…

Artificial-SweetenersThe bottom line here is that it is really best to stay away from soda all together.  Look at your consumption of any sugar and/or sugar-like substances, and do your best to eliminate or at least reduce its presence in your diet.  The only safe low calorie sugar alternative is Stevia, which comes from a plant.  Personally I do not enjoy the flavor of stevia as it is much sweeter than sugar, but if you can take the taste, at least you know you are eating something natural rather than manufactured.

Getting back to the main message:  It’s far better to consume ‘a little bit’ of a natural sweetener than lots.  But it is better to stay away from chemical sweeteners altogether.  Your best options for sweetening agents are  honey, molasses, maple syrup, agave, brown sugar and stevia for a low calorie alternative.  Glucose has also been shown to be a healthy alternative, although it’s slightly less sweeter than sucrose.

natural-sweeteners

You can’t believe it’s not butter?  I can!!!

notbutter-butteritsnotSo this is a hot topic: Should we eat butter, with its high fat content, or switch to one of the many low calorie alternatives offered today?  When I was young, margarine was the big butter alternative touted to have lower saturated fat and cholesterol.  Of course years later we realized that margarine is actually packed with trans-fat, which is way worse for you!  But these days there is a new generation of butter alternatives now advertised with no trans-fat BUT they instead contain a myriad of additives and preservatives. 

Just because something is low in fat doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

thIn fact, these low fat miracle products generally have a bunch of junk in them to make them taste good—extra sugar, chemicals, additives—which in the end are much worse for you than the slightly higher fat content, and prevent your body from losing weight. Skim milk? Might as well call it sugar milk.

Take it from Dr. Oz: “Don’t drink skim milk, you don’t need to. When you take the fat out of milk, what’s left? Sugar! Skim milk is sugar milk. You want to drink 2% milk, eat 2% yogurt…people who have a little bit of fat in the yogurt lose more weight, because your body is satiated.” 

This harkens back to that cognitive distortion thing I mentioned earlier: With ‘low-cal’ products, mentally people think they can eat more, which means more of all that nasty artificial stuff in your system! Higher fat products not only don’t have all the junk added, but also make your body feel more satisfied, meaning you eat less. 

Again, this simple rule always holds true: Chemical ingredients are never a good choice!

Butter itself contains only cream and salt, and is packed with a bunch of vitamins such as Vitamin A, important for our endocrine system and maintaining good vision as well as other bodily functions.  Also vitamins E, K and D, which play a role in maintaining our cardiovascular system.  It contains Lecithin which helps our metabolism work properly, and antioxidants which protect our bodies from disease.

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This brings me back to my main point – ‘a little bit of what you fancy does you good‘ … a moderate amount of butter (maybe not Paula Deen amounts!) in our diet is much healthier than the alternatives out there.

Always go for the natural alternative and teach yourself to exercise will power to not overdo it. Part of changing the way you eat is to learn how to enjoy things in moderation, and doing so will help you enjoy those little pleasures immensely more. 

Fat free half and half and other fat free products

0003450063210_500X500And the oxymorons continue!  My first thought would be ‘what’s the point’!!!  But I assume people who buy fat free products are under the impression that fat is bad, and this is a way to save fat and calories while still enjoying a ‘fat like’ taste.  Well, that ‘fat like’ taste is created by replacing fat with corn syrup and chemical thickeners (carrageenan is most common, and has been linked with cancer in multiple studies) that create the ‘fat like’ flavor and texture.  Most fat free products are the same, instead of fat they add corn syrup and chemical additives.

Half and half is so named because it contains equal parts milk and cream—both natural products.  It’s far better to enjoy a little bit of half & half rather than a fat free alternative.

What about ‘Low fat’ products?

The recommendation for fat consumption is that we get 20%-35% of our daily calories from fat. That’s about 44 to 77 grams of fat a day assuming you eat 2,000 calories a day.  In order for your body to function properly, and your metabolism to work the way that it should, we need enough fat calories.  Saturated fat should be kept to a minimum, with mono and polyunsaturated fat making up the majority of daily fat consumption.

Here are a few foods that contain healthty fats:

  • Salmon
  • Raw nuts (roasting spoils the good oil content)
  • Avocado
  • Olive, avocado, safflower oils
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax meal

Low fat foods, much like fat free foods, often contain other ingredients to make up for the lack of fat.  The key here is to read the label. Don’t trust companies advertising “all natural; healthy; wholesome”—the fact is that these statements mean nothing, and any company can slap them on their products, regardless of whether the statements are true. If you see that the product contains chemical additives and sugars (especially high fructose corn syrup) to make up for the lack of fat, then it might not be the best choice.

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The main take-away messages? 

Real food in moderation is always better than low fat, low calorie, diet alternatives. 

Reading labels is so important.  Food manufacturers are always coming up with new chemical ingredients to add to our food to make it last longer, taste better, contain less fat or sugar.  A good thing to remember is that as much as they can test these chemicals before using them, it really is only once humans have been consuming them for years that the real effects will come to light.  

-It’s so much better to try to avoid additives and preservatives, artificial sweeteners and fat substitutes.  Buy natural whole ingredients and either make your own food or choose brands of prepared food that do not contain additives and preservatives.

I try to prepare all my food from scratch so I am in charge of what they contain.   I’m also less likely to eat them as much because they take work, effort and time to prepare.   On occasion I even like to make my own chocolate from scratch,  I maybe eat 2-3 squares of good dark chocolate in a day when I have it available … a square at a time with a nice cup of British tea!  I would eat one square of chocolate in place of a dessert after a meal, so I get a little sweet taste without overdoing my sugar intake.

I rest my case, a little bit of what you fancy does you good.

“Moderation.  Small helping.  Sample a little bit of everything.  These are the secrets of happiness and good health” 

 -Julia Child

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Don’t Get Discouraged

Don’t get discouraged!!!

This is a short article addressing one of the biggest hurdles people face when trying to achieve their health and fitness goals.  It’s easy to figure out what you would like to achieve and where you would like to be in 6 months, a year or two.  What is not so easy is making that journey from where you are now, to where you want to be.  The most important thing to remember is that there is a lot to be learned on that journey, and perhaps the result you end up with may fall a little short of your ideal, but remember that each of us is unique and different.   What is ideal and healthy for your body may look different from the next person.

Things to remember:

  • Do NOT get discouraged!

If you have a bad day/week, remember the journey you are on and keep moving forward.  It’s so easy to let one slip up sabotage you entirely.  We are all bound to have days and weeks when we do not stick entirely to the plan, but as time goes along and ‘the plan’ becomes more and more a part of your regular routine, you will find you slip out of it less and less.

  • Do NOT compare yourself to the next person.

We are all different and unique.  We all have our own genetic make up, which for better or worse will to some degree influence our outcome.  You may find that fit and healthy for you is not necessarily what you envision, but it’s the best for your body.  You may have inherited health issues that work against your desire to be fit an healthy, but remember that we all do the best with what we have.  You will always be better off, fitter, healthier and happier when you eat and live a healthy lifestyle.

  • Think positive!

Don’t allow negative thinking patterns to influence you on a day to day basis.  Tell yourself how well you are doing, and how much healthier you are getting daily.  When you have a good day or week, be proud of yourself.  When you have a bad day or week, brush it off.  Tomorrow is a new day, and you get a do over!

  • Keep track of your goals and make the achievable.

Listing your goals, and tracking your progress towards them is important to help you stay positive and encouraged.  Even if you gained a few pounds, you can look back and see that you still have an overall weight loss – if weight loss is your goal.  Give yourself achievable goals.  For weight loss, 1 1b a week is recommended.  Losing too much too fast can result in weight being gained back.  Remember that 1 1b of weight is equal to 3500 calories.  So all you have to do is burn 500 more calories a day than you eat to lose 1 1b weekly.  You can burn 3-500 calories during a good workout!

  • Keep moving.

No matter what, it’s important to keep your body moving.  Whether you have missed a few classes due to scheduling issues, or took some vacation, your body still needs to move.  Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming are all easy things to do and can be fun even when you are vacationing.  Don’t take a vacation from exercising, that should be part of your every day along with making good food choices.  If you have to sit for hours at a time for work, make a point of getting up and walking around every 45 minutes or so.

  • Surround yourself with people who encourage you.

Try to be with people who are like minded or who will encourage your efforts. There will always be those who are negative about fitness and health since they haven’t managed to incorporate it into their lives, and resent others who have.  The mind body connection is very real, and when you feel good physically it will positively affect you psychologically as well.  Then you will be someone who can encourage others to take charge of their health and fitness.

In conclusion remember the bullet points above.  Write them somewhere you see every day and remember to actively follow them as you work towards your goals:

  • Don’t get discouraged
  • Don’t compare yourself to others
  • Think positive
  • Keep track of your goals and keep them achievable
  • Keep moving
  • Surround yourself with encouragers

Conquer Your Unhealthy Habits

Conquer your unhealthy habits

Next time:  Adding healthy habits to your daily life

Our health is, for the most part, in our hands. The choices we make each day will have an effect on our health.  Here are a few examples of daily choices that, over a period of years, will eventually result in you becoming sick and unhealthy.  Starting with the most obvious and then going into a few you may not think about.

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  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Not exercising
  • Not drinking enough water 
  • Drinking soda regularly
  • Overeating
  • Eating too much sugar
  • Eating too many prepared and processed foods
  • Sun – too much or too little
  • Using tanning beds
  • Using chemical hair, skin and dental products
  • Stress
  • Negativity 

Our health is not just about our body, in fact our body can reflect issues we have mentally and spiritually.  Its a proven fact that stress, for example, can cause actual physical illness.  We have to maintain ourselves as a whole person, and only then will we be able to lead lives that are as happy, healthy and fulfilling as they can be.

Slowly swapping out bad habits for good ones will be a process.  Take it in bite size chunks, one at a time.  Give yourself a realistic time period to accomplish the swap out.  Here are a few practical tips:

Smoking.  If you smoke, that should be the first thing you work on.    See below for the many health risks. Here is a good link if you are looking for ways to quit:   http://quitsmoking.about.com/od/tipsforquitting/     pasted-image-2

Alcohol is not unhealthy in moderation, unless you have alcoholism in your family.  It can be both a medicine and a poison depending on the dose.  Moderate alcohol is known to be good for the heart and the circulatory system, while overconsumption is associated with inflammation and cirrhosis of the liver as well as several types of cancer.  For more detail on the health benefits and risks of alcohol go to:  http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/alcohol-full-story/

Lack of exercise.  The most common excuse I hear from people is the lack of time to work out.  Many of my clients meet with me specifically so they have accountability, and to ensure that they work out regularly.  They know I’m going to check in with them to be  sure they are pasted-image-3getting more than just our workout in during the week.  If a trainer is not possible for you, start by moving more, walking further, parking farther away from places.  Take the stairs and not the elevator.  Start small and increase gradually, keep a log so you can see the improvement.  Check out my workout page for some easy ideas for working out at home.

Not drinking enough watpasted-image-4er.   We each need about half our body weight in fluid oz of water daily.  This is the best visual image of why
water is so important that I found.  It’s an easy change to make, keep a bottle with you,  replace consumption of a sugary drink with a refreshing glass of water.

Drinking Soda.  Slowly replace soda with a healthier choice, could be herb tea with honey, or water  with cucumber or lemon.  Diet soda is not better as it contains harmful chemical sweeteners.  Here is some further reading on why it’s so important to avoid soda:   http://www.healthambition.com/what-is-in-soda-why-so-addictive 

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Overeating.  Many people overeat on a daily basis.  Treating food as an emotional comfort, or as a reward is part of the reason.  We need to take the emotipasted-image-5on out of eating, and see it as providing fuel and nutrition for our bodies.  Try finding a different habit to comfort you when things don’t go as planned, or a different reward when things go well.  This will be a big step in the right direction.  Diets can provide a short term solution, but unless you change the way you eat long term, eventually when the diet ends you will resume old habits and gain the weight back again.  Slowly purge your pantry of ‘trigger’ foods, those you can’t stop eating, and incorporate healthier choices.  For more on this topic go to the ‘Change the way you eat’ page of this site.

Eating too much sugar  This goes with the last one.  If you can’t eat sugar in moderation, try to stay away from it.  The only safe substitute sweetener that’s low calorie is Stevia which comes from a plant.  Honey, maple syrup and molasses are marginally better nutritionally but still have lots of calories.

Eating too many prepared or processed foods  Simple answer…. cook more.  Try to carve out some time to prepare your food from scratch, see the recipes section of this site for some great ideas.

Sun – too much or too little  Obviously one has to be careful about sun exposure, especially if you have fair skin.  But too little sun can lead to a vitamin D deficiency which can lead to health issues such as osteoporosis.  Many of the sunscreens out there contain harmful carcinogenic chemicals, so I make my own.  See my beauty recipes page for some tips.  Its best to avoid summer sun from 11am-2pm when it is the strongest, and to limit exposure.

Using tanning beds Cancer, premature aging, Immune suppression and eye damage to name but a few.  For more information go to: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm186687.htm

Using chemical hair, skin and dental products  This may be something you don’t consider when assessing your choices health wise.  However, there are many harmful chemicals in the beauty products that we use daily.  Try reading the ingredients and look them up.  There are natural alternatives you can purchase or if you have the time and energy, you can make your own.  See my ‘Home made beauty products’ page for some recipes.pasted-image-2

Stress  If you can identify stressful situations that currently exist in your life, then perhaps you can make a commitment to yourself to remove the stress.  Studies prove that too much stress can make you physically ill if not dealt with.  ie. either ‘let it go’ if it’s something you are just stressing over.  Or perhaps its stress at work, in which case adopting a different mind set could work.  For some practical tips on dealing with stress check out this link:  http://www.livestrong.com/article/19198-natural-deal-anxiety/

Negativity  Do you find yourself thinking the glass is half empty rather than half full? Negativity and a negative self image can really get in the way of your journey toward a healthier, happier life.  Turning those negative thought processes around is imperative if you are going to be successful.  I found this article interesting in strategies to deal with negativity, be it your own or those around you:  http://top7business.com/?Top-7-Strategies-To-Overcome-Negative-Attitudes-In-The-Workplace&id=561

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Article on Dehydration

This article is from http://www.watercure.com/wondersofwater.html

How to test whether a simple home remedy for dehydration can help relieve your rheumatoid arthritis pain

Before I give you the simple home remedy for dehydration that has helped relieve rheumatoid arthritis pain, let’s first review:

How water helps your normal joints work.

A joint is a place where two bones meet so your body can move. The bone surfaces are covered with cartilage which is a semi-soft tissue like that found in your nose.

In order for your two cartilage surfaces to glide easily over one another, the cartilage needs to be full of fluid—so its surfaces are smooth.

If your body or your cartilage is a little low in water, your cartilage surfaces will become dimpled, like the wrinkled skin of an old apple. Two wrinkled cartilage surfaces in your joint will not glide over each other very easily. They will rub, and stick to each other. You’ll get a mild abrasion on your cartilage, like a skin scrape from falling down and more. You’ll feel better and move more gracefully when your joints have enough water.

Dehydration may be a major trigger for the start of arthritis.

Many chronic and acute signals of dehydration were discovered in a stress filled environment in Iran by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj.

In his book, “You’re not sick, You’re thirsty!”, he describes many very painful conditions that he healed solely by having patients drink more water,

He proposed that dehydration is a major trigger for your rheumatoid arthritis.

His theory opens a new perspective on a cause and potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Here are additional aspects of your life that improve by drinking optimal amounts of water:

1. Promotes easy weight loss,

2. Relieves heartburn, and constipation,

3. Improves food digestion and nutrient absorption,

4. Enhances germ fighting ability of immune system,

5. Catch fewer colds, flu and other infections,

6. Improves memory and clearer thinking,

7. Restores normal sleep patterns,

8. Increases your ability to reach goals,

9. Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression,

10. Makes skin smoother,

11. Gives luster and shine to the eyes,

12. Gives higher energy,

13. Washes out toxic deposits in tissues,

14. Improves flexibility,

15. Normalizes blood pressure and cholesterol,

16. Increases libido,and more.

Could your rheumatoid arthritis pain– and the rest of your body– be signaling that you’re thirsty?

A home remedy for dehydration and your pains would be to recognize and quench your thirst.

Signals of thirst

When your joints hurt, you may not feel thirsty.

Unfortunately, many of us, probably you, may not be able to tell apart the signals for thirst from hunger because we weren’t usually taught this as children.

A dry mouth is a signal of extreme thirst. Low energy, irritability, and pain are all signals of thirst.

In addition, your ability to sense thirst diminishes as we age. In fact, a clinical study showed that elder men had lost most of their recognition of thirst.

The optimal amount of water and sea salt

You, like me, can only use the water we drink today.

Each and every day, you use up approx. 56-64 oz. of water in your daily life by breathing, eating, perspiring, moving, and removing wastes. In other words, you use up 7-8 glasses (8 oz. each) of water.

In addition, some beverages –like coffee, tea, and caffeine containing soda –cause your body to excrete more fluid than the beverage that you just drank.

Other beverages like milk and juice require water to digest (just like food). Otherwise, your blood and lymph becomes fuller as it picks up the digested nutrients.

This is why you should only count the amount of water you drink.

How many 8 oz glasses of water do you drink each day? (This does not include coffee, tea, soda, juice, milk or any colored, flavored fluid.)

a) none

b) 1-2 glasses

c) 3-4 glasses

d) 5-8 glasses

e) 9 or more

For a simple home remedy for dehydration, let’s compare how many glasses of water you drink now with how many Dr. Batmanghelidj recommends.

Simple Home Remedy for Dehydration:

To figure out how much you need to drink, Dr. Batmanghelidj recommends 1 oz of water for every 2 lbs. or 0.9 kg of body weight in his home remedy for dehydration.

So, if you weigh 125 lbs. (57 kg), Dr. Batmanghelidj recommends that you drink at least 7-8 glasses (1.75- 2 liters) of refreshing water each day with a ½ teaspoon of sea salt to replenish your lost salt in sweat, etc.

Or if you weigh 200 lbs.(91 kg), he recommends that you drink 12-13 glasses of water (3-3.1 liters ) and eat 2/3 teaspoon of sea salt in your foods each day.

If you exercise and sweat a lot, then he recommends that you drink 2-4 glasses more with a couple of extra pinches of sea salt.

However, it may be easier to remember to drink 2 glasses (8 oz each) of water approx. 30 min before each meal and drink 1 glass of water approx 1 ½ hr after each meal.

Dr. F. Batmanghelidj notes that he has even observed patients who are taking diuretics, improve with his water and sea salt regimen.

As with all changes, it is often good to begin changes gradually. For example, you could choose to begin drinking 1 extra glass of water approx 30 min before each meal in addition to your regular water for several days and then increase it.

When you are drinking optimal water, it’s also important to ingest enough minerals, like sea salt.

Sea salt is essential for your healthy life. It contains about eighty mineral elements that the body needs.

Trace minereals are vital for many essential functions. The minerals in sea salt improve brain performance, bone health, muscle tone, circulation, kidney excretion, digestion and lung functions.

One of the easiest ways to savor sea salt is to season your food with it.

How much sea salt do you eat each day on average?

a) none

b) less than 1/8 teaspoon sea salt

c) 1/8 – ¼ teaspoon sea salt

d) ¼ – ½ teaspoon sea salt

e) more than ½ teaspoon sea salt

Sea salt can be in your food or taken as a little dab placed on your tongue each time you drink 2 glasses of water. After drinking the first glass of water, put a pinch of sea salt on your tongue—it tastes salty but ok. Then drink the second glass of pure refreshing water.

Note, if you eat many salty foods, then you may be getting enough salt.

However, sea salt or salt found naturally in foods contains many other minerals essential for your healthy body.

Since I’ve been following this home remedy for dehydration, which is based on Dr. Batmanghelidj’s water cure program, my knees don’t creak. It certainly helps and combined with the additional approaches has given me more energy, more strength, more clarity, and more joy de vivre! You’d probably enjoy the same or more benefits.

When you’re drinking more water, the color of your urine will become paler. When you’re drinking the optimal amount of water and ingesting sea salt, your urine will be a very pale yellow.

For further details, you may want to purchase one of Dr. Batmanghelidj’s books, “You’re not sick, You’re thirsty! Water for Health, for Healing, for Life”, or “Your Bodies Many Cries for Water, or “How to Deal With Back Pain or Rheumatoid Joint Pain”.

If you are concerned about your water or you’d prefer a better tasting water, check out reviews of different bottled waters, water purifiers and water filters.

You can find several brands of sea salt in health food stores. Just read the label. Some contain sugar (dextrose) and other additives. My favorite sea salt is Redmond’s Sea Salt.

In addition, most sea salt is not iodized so include a source of iodine such as deep sea fish, or kelp in your diet.

Although increasing water consumption while taking small amounts of sea salt has not induced any reports of negative, side effects, it may be prudent to consult your healthcare provider, especially if you have any kidney problems.

Please note that the information on this website  ( http://www.watercure.com/wondersofwater.html) is a sharing of information and knowledge from the research and experience of Dr. Molnar-Kimber and her community. It is not intended to diagnose nor treat any disease or precondition nor replace your one on one relationship with a qualified health care professional. It also is not intended to be medical advice. However, it is often observed that patients who take a major interest in their disease and learn as much as they can about their disease and potential treatments often improve faster than those who don’t. Dr. Molnar-Kimber encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your own research and discussions with your qualified health care professional.

Eating for your body type

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One diet or eating style does not fit all.  It seems as though there is always a diet that everyone is trying.  These days I keep hearing about the Keto diet which is very similar to the Atkins diet that was popular some years ago.  A good note here is that the creator of the Atkins diet, Dr Atkins, died of a heart attack!  Eating to suit YOUR body

The concept of very high fat and low carb is generally not the way our bodies prefer to function.  Carbs are our main source of energy which is most essential for red blood cell production and brain function.   When we deprive our bodies of carbohydrates it is forced to use the fats and proteins as its alternate energy source putting the body into what is called ‘ketosis’.  This is usually what happens if the body thinks it’s starving.   Although you can lose weight on this diet in the short term, by using fats and protein for energy instead of carbohydrates for more than a week or two you run the following risks:

  • putting added stress on the liver  
  • Becoming dehydrated – the body tries to excrete excess ketones through urine
  • Increased risk for diabetes
  • uric acid accumulation in the tissues
  • osteoporosis 
  • mineral imbalances
  • nutrient deficiencies  
  • muscle protein loss over time. 
  • Bad breath

The Keto diet does not restrict consumption of saturated, processed and partially hydrogenated fats.  The two latter fats should really be eliminated from our diets, and saturated fat should be consumed in moderation remembering to increase consumption of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which promote overall health and help decrease the risk of heart disease.

I have always felt that the best way to eat is a varied and moderate diet containing lots of vegetables, moderate fruit, whole grains, good fats and a good amount of protein.  Buying organic where possible and making as many of your foods from scratch will further promote a healthy diet.

However, each of us are unique and so it stands to reason that perhaps we each have a specific eating style that will best suit our body.  There are really three different choices:

  • High fat, low carbohydrate. 20g fat to 10g carbs
  • Low fat, high carbohydrate.  1g fat to 20g carbs
  • Moderate fat and carbohydrate. 10g fat to 20 of carbs

All three include the recommended amount of protein per day, which is .8g per 1 1b body weight for the average person.  

In order to discover which eating style best suits your body, you can pick one meal for three days in a row to do each of these eating styles.  Making notes as to how you feel in the hours after the meal.  How energetic, how quickly you feel hungry again, how is your mood etc.  It’s important to note that when picking foods for the high carb eating style, you choose foods that contain complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruit and vegetables rather than foods high in sugar and white flour.  For the high fat, limit the quantity of saturated fat and be sure to include foods high in monounsaturated fats such as avocado, nuts and oily fish.

General rules for healthy eating:

  • Drink half your body weight in fluid oz of water daily, plus whatever you lose during exercise.  The body is approximately 70% water, so for health and weight loss or maintenance, adequate water consumption is essential.
  • Make sure you eat enough protein, especially if you are working out regularly.  Protein is necessary for muscle growth and repair as well as 
    • Building blocks. Proteins make up the hair, nails, muscles etc.
    • hormones. Many hormones are protein in nature; hormones control growth and metabolic activities of the body.
    • catalytic activities. Enzymes are globular protein. …
    • Transport of oxygen. …
    • Blood Clotting. …
    • Immunity. …
    • Muscles contractility.
  •  For a moderate diet, it is recommended that we consume around 200g carbohydrates daily or about 40-50% of daily calories.   Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy.  Carbohydrates come from plants and are comprised (as the name suggests) of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.  Carbohydrates are 4 calories per gram so for a 2000/cal diet that would be 200-250g carbohydrates.
  • Healthy fats in a moderate diet should be 20-35% of daily calories – fats are 9 calories per gram, so in a 2000/cal diet that would be 44-77g fat.
  • Eat high fiber nutrient dense foods.  You will be able to eat more and feel fuller, as well as promote overall health.  Fiber is found mainly in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Fiber is a part of the carbohydrate that can’t be digested or broken down so it passes through the body and helps maintain bowel health as well as lowering cholesterol.
  • Eat a variety of colored vegetables – picking different colored vegetables will ensure you get a good balance of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that the body needs for tissue maintenance and metabolism,  and phytochemicals that play a roll in cancer and disease prevention.
  • Supplements are generally not recommended.  We are supposed to get all of our nutrients from food, and most supplements are not regulated or tested.  Studies have been done following people who take supplements and those who don’t for years, and the findings in all cases are that there is no difference in the health of these two groups.  In fact this study below found that there could be more harm than good in taking supplements. Our bodies generally don’t absorb supplements that are taken in pill form anyway, and it ends up being excreted in our urine.  Liquid supplements would be more readily absorbed, but again studies show no benefit to long term use of supplements.                                            https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109718345601  https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-05-popular-vitamin-mineral-supplements-health.html?utm_source=TrendMD&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=MedicalXpress_TrendMD_1
  • If your goal is to lose weight you need to eat less calories each day than you burn.  Today’s smart watches and fit bits help us determine how much energy we use daily, and can then adjust our calorie intake accordingly.  It is helpful to begin to get familiar with the calories and nutrient content of your food.  Using a tool like MyFitnessPal can help to track daily calories and macronutrients for you.  1 1b of fat is 3500 calories, so in order to lose 1 1b weekly you need to have a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories.  So a combination of decreasing calories, and increasing daily activity is necessary for weight loss.  

Learning which eating style suits your body will help not only with weight loss but also ensure that you keep up your energy levels, sleep better and don’t get hungry between meals.

Group Exercise – a supportive community

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In this article I’ll explore the benefits of group exercise as oppose to trying to do it by yourself. We will look at why it’s so important for those wanting to get fitter and healthier plug into a fitness community.  Not only that, but we will see how this type of exercise helps individuals reach and maintain their health and fitness goals successfully.

I have been teaching exercise in one form or another for over 20 years.  It has been my full time occupation now for 8 years, and one of my greatest delights while teaching and training is to see people connect with one another and form a supportive and motivating fitness community.

I remember from my days of attending exercise classes how much fun it is to work out with friends, and have friends support and encourage you in your fitness goals.  But beyond that there is an added element of motivation that comes with being part of a group.  

This can be true of health and fitness clubs to a degree, but there is always the added element of being surrounded by mirrors, and working out with others you don’t know, who seem to be so much fitter than you are.  In a traditional health club environment, this can be the opposite of motivating, and many people have left feeling discouraged and given up before they even start.

At our Community Center location we do not have mirrors, which for many is a HUGE positive.  It makes sense to me that watching yourself and others exercise can be discouraging for those with insecurities about their body image and their abilities in a group class.  As much as a mirror can help us with our form, it can also highlight comparisons between exercisers in such a way as to be discouraging.  As quoted in this study “ Women in a mirrored environment reported greater self-consciousness and more social comparisons”

It also seems that our fitness community has been truly blessed with some of the very nicest people!  I am always so excited to see new participants welcomed and befriended when they join a class.  Many come and meet people they haven’t seen in a long time but used to know, so old friendships are reignited.  There is a wonderfully supportive element in our classes, and it’s very exciting to see people feeling accepted and encouraged not only by me but by their fellow class participants.

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To continue to encourage the enrichment and growth of our fitness community, every month or so we invite those currently attending our classes or coming to me for one-on-one training, to join us for a meal at a local restaurant.  This added social element is designed to enrich our relationships with one another, and promote the continuation of support in our quest to reach and maintain our health and fitness goals.  Of course if one is to be truly and wholly healthy, then there is a psychological aspect to be considered.  Feeling accepted, loved, encouraged and supported by other members of our community makes us overall happier and more positive people.  Ergo our psychological health is also nurtured in a social or exercising group environment.

Personal Training is another method that has been proven highly effective in achieving and maintaining health and fitness goals.  The accountability of having a weekly or twice weekly appointment with a trainer is key to ensuring you are sticking to an exercise program and working towards your goals. As quoted in this article  “Anyone who has worked with an exercise professional understands that a personal trainer offers much more than just exercise advice and company during a workout. An experienced, educated and encouraging trainer will offer lifestyle coaching, time management and support on staying motivated. A registered personal trainer will also be able to tailor each exercise session to your individual needs, fitness & exercise levels, and health and injury history. Your workouts will be safe and effective.”

As you start this new year, consider what you would like to accomplish in the area of health and fitness.  Nothing is more important!  Ask yourself the following questions  

  • Am I stressed?  If so how can I decrease my stress?
  • Do I get enough exercise daily?
  • Is my diet healthy?
  • Do I have happy healthy relationships?

In answering the above questions, think about baby steps towards a happier healthier you.  Consider becoming part of a community that will support and encourage you in your goals.  Take one tiny step today towards improving your health and ultimately your life.

For those interested, below are links to studies that show the benefits of a supportive group when starting an exercise and fitness routine.

 Benefits of group support for weight loss and fitness maintenance

Group motivation for fitness

Positive peer pressure

 

 

 

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