Category Archives: nutrition

What’s the Deal with Gluten (and other digestive questions)?

I love being a resource for people. So, when I find good information I like to share it. [Tweet “One of my go-to places for nutritional information is www.weightymatters.ca. “]The site is the work of Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, whom I cannot say enough about. If you want uncensored, researched based information, he’s your guy. Here is a recent interview he did where he talks about:

What’s the deal with gluten? Is the current craze being exaggerated?
What are some solutions for bloating
Is there a link between IBS and breastfeeding?
How often should you be going number two?
How much damage do detox teas do to your stomach?
Why does eating raw vegetables cause a sore stomach?
To salt or not to salt?

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4 Tips to Curb Overeating

Recently there was an article in the Province newspaper, Dieters offered hope of a pill to turn off hunger. The pill contains acetate, a molecule which is released when we eat fiber. Acetate works in the brain to suppress our feelings of hunger. So far they have only tested this on mice, and the results have been that the mice ate less.

Here’s my question…Do we overeat because we are constantly hungry? I think not. The clients that I work with (and myself included) have more issues with emotional eating, eating because of boredom, mindless eating, grazing all day etc. We don’t overeat because we are hungry.

Now that’s not to say that for some people this wouldn’t work. There are people who overeat because of the physical sensation of hunger. But I think they are the minority of the people who overeat.

So, once again. No magic pill. No quick fix. No gimmick that will give you the short cut. If you overeat here are some tips on how to reign it in:

  1. be mindful when you eat – sit at a proper table, put away ALL the screens (TV, laptop, phone). We know that when we are not paying attention to the food we eat, we eat more.
  2. rid your house of the snack foods – just get rid of them. If you want a treat, buy a single serving of something when you are at the store, don’t have those things in the house.
  3. eat at set times – don’t let yourself graze all day. Even if you are grazing (aka snacking) on healthy foods, those calories add up. Plan to eat every 3 hours or so.
  4. plan your meals – I know, it sounds boring and time consuming. But trust me, when you decide what meals you are going to cook during the week, buy ALL the groceries you need and then prep whatever you can, the rest of your week is so much easier. I do my planning, shopping and prepping on a Sunday, find what day works best for you.

I would love to hear in the comments below other tips that you use to keep your eating under control…

YOU Are a Walking Experiment

The health/fitness/wellness industry is plagued with programs, powders and pills that promise you amazing results. This industry might as well have a license to print money. People are so desperate for the “thing” that will take away their problem, that will give them the physical body they want, that they will try almost anything and pay almost anything.

I had a student in a fitness course years ago who declared to the whole class that he was 100% certain that there was no quick fix anywhere on the planet. He said that if Oprah hasn’t found the fix for health/wellness/fitness then it doesn’t exist. With the resources at her disposal and her past struggles you bet if there was a quick fix out there she would have found it by now.

So please, let go of the hope that there is the PERFECT program, powder, pill out there for you – it doesn’t exist.

But here’s what does exist, a whole bunch of programs, powders and pills that may or may not work for you. YOU are a walking experiment. The mindset that you want to have is one of curiosity. So try that new program at the gym, see what works for you and what doesn’t. Try that new way of eating and see what works for you and what doesn’t. By trying different things you can keep all the pieces that worked and get rid of all the pieces that didn’t. In essence you create your own program through the bits and pieces of all the other things that you’ve tried.

Each one of us is so incredibly unique that I think it’s offensive for someone to suggest that they have the solution for everyone. What they may have, is one piece that could help you.

So instead of looking for a single thing that is going to give you the health and wellness that you want, think of yourself as a walking experiment. Keep what works and trash the rest.

3 Reasons Why We Eat

I’ve been reading the book “Eating Behaviours and Obesity” by Dr. Shahram Heshmat over the past few weeks and I have to say, he has a great way of putting complex information into an easy to understand format.

One of the things that he writes about are the 2 reasons why we eat. While these weren’t a surprise to me in concept, the way that he titled and described them really made sense to me. I have added  third to the list that I personally experience.

picture of book cover

The Reasons

  1. physiological hunger (you physically feel hungry) – our body needs food to survive
  2. hedonic hunger – we eat because it makes us feel good
  3. boredom – this one is my addition.

How I Respond to those Reasons

Lately I have been playing around with these 3 reasons. Each time I want to eat something I ask myself which of the 3 reasons is the reason why I am reaching for food in that moment and I have a certain action I do for each one.

  1. physiological hunger – great! Continue on!
  2. hedonic hunger – hmmm….will those cookies really make you feel better? Wait at least 10 minutes before giving into this one (usually by the end of the 10 minutes I don’t want the cookies anymore)
  3. boredom – get your ass of the couch and do something!

What are your tips and tricks for eating for the right reasons? I would love to hear them!

I Don’t Drink Water

I don’t like drinking water. Which all my fitness students, friends and family find to be quite ironic. How can a fitness professional, who teaches people to become fitness professionals, not drink water? I will go a couple of days without drinking water. Now I am still getting fluids through the foods I eat, milk I drink etc. but am lacking on the pure water intake.

This has been a struggle of mine for more than a decade. I have tried all the tricks…adding flavor to the water, having a water bottle with me all the time, telling myself that by the end of the day this jug of water has to be gone etc. None of it has worked.

And then something miraculous happened. I bought a Starbucks cold beverage cup. I now drink 3-4 of those of water everyday. No joke.

At first I thought it was because it was kinda fun to use a straw. The cup worked because it made drinking water more fun. But that didn’t seem like it was the thing. How could a straw fix a decade old problem? And then it dawned on me. Drinking from this sealed cup, that has a straw, is easier than a bottle – there is no lid to take off and put on. Nothing to open. Just sip and you’re done.

We have heard for years that the healthy choice needs to be the easy choice for people to adopt it.

So, in whatever you and/or your clients are struggling with, take a minute to think about how you could make it just a tiny bit easier. It may already seem easy and there may be a way to make it easier still. I didn’t think that drinking from a bottle was hard, but drinking from a straw is just plain easier.

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Are powders and pills replacing whole food?

Lately I have been reading and hearing a lot of information about different supplements/products that fitness professionals are using themselves and selling to their clients to help them reach their goals. The results seem to be impressive. People are losing weight, they say they are feeling better and for some it has also become another source of revenue.

So, here is the first place where I am a bit stuck. Fundamentally, I think that these supplements/products are a band aid solution to people not making their health a priority. They are choosing not to cook healthy food. There are lots of reasons that they will give you, I am too busy, the food we buy in stores today doesn’t have the same nutritional value, etc. And at the end of the day, if you value eating healthy you will make the time and you will find quality foods.

Here is the second place that I am stuck. If the people using these products are not willing to take care of their health through whole food then are the products they are taking better than nothing?If they are becoming healthier should it matter how they get there?

When I think about this whole scenario I wonder if nutritional products/supplements are the next evolution in how we nourish our bodies. Think back a few generations, people grew their own food. Then society changed and people stopped growing their own food, and started buying it from others. Then society changed again and they cooked their own food less, they ate out, bought pre-cooked meals. So, are pills and powders the next evolution? Will they slowly start to replace whole food all together?

As a life coach, when a client is not taking care of something important in their life we often start to dig a bit deeper to see where else they are selling themselves short. Where we struggle in our life is often a symptom of something else that is going on. If a client continually chooses not to make their nutrition a priority, why is that? What else are they shoving off to the side? Until the client figures out what the underlying issue is they will continue to struggle. It may appear that they are conquering things in their life but really they are just trading one struggle for another.

So, if you or your clients are choosing to use pills and powders instead of whole foods I encourage you to sit for a moment and really ask yourself why you have chosen this path instead of real food. No judgement, just curiosity. When we are clear around why we are making decisions we are much more likely to make the right decision and to stick with it.

Nutrition – Master the Basics First

Within the health and fitness industry there are a lot of opinions about nutrition. What you should eat, what you shouldn’t, when you should eat and so on. For many people all this information can become really overwhelming and the end result is that they often don’t make the changes needed to eat in a healthier way. 
In my opinion I think that to eat better you need to master the basics first before you start exploring more complicated eating plans. I use the term eating plan instead of diet because the word diet often conjures up thoughts of a short term way of eating. If you want permanent changes you need to make permanent changes. You need to have a healthy eating plan that you can follow for the rest of your life. So, what do I think is the simplest way to eat healthy? Canada’s Food Guide. As a starting place for developing healthy eating habits I think it is the perfect place to start.  You need to master the basics. Once you have mastered the Food Guide, if you want something more specific, talk to a registered Dietician. 
One of the biggest issues I think that people have is not knowing how big a serving is when they look at the recommendations of the Food Guide. I suggest that you measure all your food for the first week or so in order to get a feel for what a serving actually is. Most people have serving sizes that are way too large. Food experts call this “portion distortion”. Once you actually start measuring your food you will probably be really surprised about how much you are actually eating.
The guidelines are broken up into different ages and genders. So, let’s look at what is suggested for a female between the ages of 19-50. Fruits and vegetables are 7-8 servings per day.  One of the criticisms that often come up is that fruits and vegetables can be really expensive. If you look at the Guide you will see that these servings can come from fresh, frozen or canned options. In the winter months frozen and canned options are a much more cost effective way of meeting the serving suggestions. 
Grain products are suggested to be 6-7 servings per day.  Here are some examples of what make up a single serving:
  • One piece of bread
  • ½ cup cooked rice, bulgur or quinoa
  • ½ a bagel
If you think about a typical day, most of us are eating more grains that what is suggested in the Guide. When choosing your grains stay away from the whites, white bread, white rice, white pasta etc. It has less nutritional value than the whole grain options.
Dairy comes in at 2 servings per day. A single serving can be 1 cup or milk or fortified soy beverage, ¾ cup yogurt or kefir or 1.5 ounces of cheese. Again, you only need 2 servings for the whole day.
Meats and Alternatives are also 2 servings per day. A single serving can be ½ cup of chicken, fish or lean meat, ¾ cup legumes or tofu, 2 eggs or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. It doesn’t take much to reach your 2 servings for the day.
Is the Canada Food Guide the best eating plan for everyone? Probably not. But, it is a great place to start developing your healthy eating habits. Once you have the basics mastered then you can start exploring other eating plans that may meet your needs better. I highly recommend that when you get to that point you work with a registered dietician. To find one in your area go to www.dieticians.ca. To download your free copy of the Canada Food Guide click here.


This posting was written for KP Athletic Wear (reprinted with permission from www.kpathleticwear.com)