All posts in weight

Diets are complicated and difficult; eating healthy can be simple

I get it. Eating healthy can seem complicated, difficult, and time consuming. Or not.

Problem #1: Eating healthy is confusing

how to healthy eatingYes, choosing the right foods for you can be confusing. But if you are eating poorly–be honest with yourself, are you eating too much garbage and not enough nutrient-rich food?–there’s so much you can do! Eat more foods that don’t require a label or packaging. Eat regularly until you’re 80% full, not more.

If you generally eat healthy, congratulations, you may find some simple tweaks beneficial. Keep reading for ideas. 

If you have food “issues” (allergies, sensitivities, stress about food), speak to a knowledgeable health professional for personalized recommendations.

Problem #2: Eating healthy is difficult

Look, I’m no chef. I’ve messed up the simplest meals. For example, I once forgot to drain the can of tuna when making a tuna salad sandwich. If I can do it, you can too. There are pre-cut food options. There’s frozen veggie and fruit options. There are actually some (you need to get to know how to read labels) healthy packaged food and restaurant options (depending on where you live). Learn a few simple go-to recipes. And read on for more tips.

Problem #3: Eating healthy is time consuming

eating healthy Vancouver BCI’m not a patient person when it comes to food. I won’t line up for a popular restaurant, unless I have no other choice. I don’t pick recipes that require hours of standing in front of a stove. When I want to eat, I want to eat soon. It’s mostly about organization and preparation.

I know it’s tough when you’re busy, but here are some basic, simple recommendations you can start with. If you want, just start with section 1 here for a week or two. Then you can move on to section 2 and so forth, so that you don’t get overwhelmed.

 

Section 1 for Eating Healthy: Eat mindfully

  1. Vancouver nutrition healthy eatingDrink between, not with meals. We chew our food better, making digestion easier, if we don’t drink with meals. We have a tendency to swallow bigger chunks of food if we wash our food down with meals. 
  2. Make sure to drink enough fluid. Start the day with a glass of water. 
  3. Chew, chew, chew your food. If you eat quickly, put your utensil down between bites. Or eat with your non-dominant hand. 
  4. Pay attention to your food. Taste it, enjoy it. Food is more than fuel.
  5. Hara hachi bu–eat until you’re 80% full. Don’t eat until you’re stuffed. Stop when you are about 80% full. Or when you are no longer hungry. You’ll find that “no longer hungry” and “full” are not the same

That’s the basics. If that’s all you do, that can make a difference.

Section 2 to Eating Healthy: How do you feel about food?

Next step is about figuring our your food habits.

  1. Vancouver natural healthy eatingYou may find it helpful to keep a food diary for a week to help you figure out what you’re really eating. Sometimes we don’t even notice how much or what we’re consuming throughout our days. Write down what you had, approximately how much, when, and ideally include how you felt before and/or after eating it.
  2. Even if you don’t keep a food diary for a week, think about your food choices. Do you have cravings? For what? What are your food habits? For example, I have a major sweet tooth. I think I used to have a muffin addiction. I seriously felt like I couldn’t go a day without having a muffin. I thought it was healthy because it was bran or blueberry or blueberry bran, but really, it was a cupcake dressed up as a healthy snack. Those muffins were huge! And full of sugar. Dropped those and my Frutopia or Snapple drink and I dropped about 5 pounds in less than 2 weeks. No other changes. Plus, I got rid of my headaches and hangry tendencies.
  3. Think about (and perhaps write down) how you feel about food. Do you live to eat or eat to live? Do you love food (best friend), hate food (enemy), or have a love-hate relationship with food (frenemy)? Do you know why you feel this way about food? 
  4. Start to pay attention to the types of hunger you might experience. Is it true hunger for food that has you reaching for something to eat? Is it stress, sadness, loneliness, anger, frustration, boredom, or simply habit? Even if you recognize you’re eating out of stress and you still choose to eat, just let yourself recognize that you’re eating to calm your feeling of stress. Don’t self-judge. Just recognize. For now.
  5. Start to consider what you’re feeding and think about whether there food substitutions that might be better for you. For example, if you’re eating to calm yourself, can you first try doing 5 minutes of breathing exercises and still if you still feel like eating after? If you’re craving ice cream, is it the sweetness, the creaminess, or the memories of childhood that you want? Is there something else that might substitute, e.g. a handful of berries for the sweetness, half an avocado for the creaminess, or make up a silly rhyme (or skip or sing or make a joke!) for the visit to child in you. 

That second part can make a huge difference because remember that most of our decisions are based on what we are feeling. And sometimes we don’t pay attention to how we feel, meaning that we could be making poor choices. And eating inappropriate food doesn’t solve the problem.

Section 3 to Eating Healthy: Start adding in healthy foods

Next step is adding in healthy foods. The focus is on good things to add, rather than bad things to avoid.

  1. healthy eating nutritionist Vancouver BCIf you find that saying “no” to certain foods is really hard, you could start by just adding in healthy foods. This means organizing yourself and having these foods at the ready. If, instead, you hope that you’ll simply find and choose healthy food when you are starving and pop into Starbucks or other such place, good luck. 
  2. Some top foods you might want to add to your routine:
    • Hemp seeds, ground flax seeds, chia seeds–add them to smoothies, top them on your oatmeal or cereal, sprinkle them on salads or cooked veggies.
    • Buckwheat, quinoa–these are actually seeds–rich in protein, fibre, and good fats–but you prepare them like grains. They are gluten-free.
    • Millet, amaranth, rice are all non-gluten grains. Don’t make them the centrepiece of your meal though. Side dish, small servings.
    • Add more veggies. Find a vegetable you’ve never used before and add it in. Or simply give veggies more real estate on your plate and eat them first. 
  3. Collect some delicious-looking healthy recipes (choose easy ones with not too many ingredients or steps, if you don’t have much time or are not inclined to spend much time in the kitchen). Pick one day to spend some time making one of those recipes at least  a couple of times per month. Invite friends or family to join in on the preparing. 
  4. Make more than you need and freeze portions for later.
  5. If you don’t like chopping and slicing and peeling and all that jazz (maybe you’re slow at it, as I am), buy the pre-prepped stuff at the grocery store. Yes, you’ll pay more. And yes it’s not as fresh as when you do it yourself. But it’s better than not eating enough vegetables. Frozen fruit and vegetables are also handy.

By adding in healthy foods, you may find you automatically eat less unhealthy foods simply because you’re not hungry.

Section 4 to Eating Healthy: Swap for healthier options

Finally, start dropping out the “bad” foods by substituting in healthier options.

  1. natural health Vancouver healthy eatingGo through your pantry, your fridge, your freezer, and any other place you stash food. If it’s junk food or processed food, get rid of it. 
  2. When you shop, shop mostly at the perimeter of the stores, not much in the aisles. Skip the aisles that contain just chips, pop, cookies, and other empty food. If you don’t have it readily handy at home, you won’t have it tempting you continuously. Or go to farmers markets for fresh, local fare.
  3. Don’t have pop, juice, or sugary cafe drinks like frappuccinos  (the venti caramel frappuccino coconut no whip is 340 calories and 75g of sugar; add whip to that and it’s 470 calories and 81g of sugar; even a venti nonfat milk, no whip mocha is 310 calories and 44g of sugar; and the venti iced passion tango tea lemonade though fewer calories at 190, but with 47g of sugar!). Do you have a fave coffee shop drink? Check out your fave drink https://globalassets.starbucks.com/assets/94fbcc2ab1e24359850fa1870fc988bc.pdf Don’t drink your sugar. Drink water, tea, fruit or veg infused waters (e.g. cucumber slices in water or raspberries in water or lemon slices in water). If you have shakes/smoothies or freshly made juices, know what’s in them and have ones with more veg, no artificial sweeteners, and not too much sugar.
  4. Bring your lunch to work. Or at least do some searching out to find healthy options for when you do eat out.
  5. Sweet tooth? Tame it by getting your tastebuds to notice the sweetness in things that don’t scream sweet, like yams, sweet potatoes, dates, figs, berries, grapes, melon, even carrots and other root vegetables, especially when they are roasted. Salt craver? Look for naturally salty foods like seaweeds, fermented foods like sauerkraut, and even celery. Perhaps it’s texture you’re after. Try whole foods that provide the textures you crave. Substitute.
  6. When you start to sub in a healthier food option, you may find it easier to do a blend of healthy and less healthy (or less appropriate for you). e.g. if switching to brown rice from white, mix the two together or when adding in nut milks instead of cow’s milk, alternate them for a bit.

And, of course, if you’re confused or need help, just ask! I love helping people make healthier foods choices.

Do you have your own tips and ways to make healthier choices for your food? Share it here!

More

Fibre foods are fabulous — part of my nutrition book in process

Non-Starch Polysaccharides–AKA Fibre Foods

flax fibre foods nutrition natural health Vancouver BCNon-starch polysaccharides is not an easy term to remember, or to market as part of a nutritious diet. More commonly termed dietary fibre, it includes cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectins (though it gets complicated here with the terminology often expanding and changing).

If sugar is considered the “bad boy” in the carbohydrate family, then fibre is treated like the “golden child.” You probably know fibre as that thing that you know you should eat more of, but that doesn’t seem that appetizing. It’s generally not something that your taste buds will crave because it has no taste. Plus, though you have to make the effort to eat it, it leaves your body mostly undigested.

So, what’s the point?

Fibre foods help support digestive health, regulate blood sugar fluctuations, lower elevated cholesterol, help eliminate toxic waste products from the body, prevent colon cancer, and more.

Dietary fibres are most commonly divided into soluble and insoluble fibres. It’s not a perfect division (what in the world is?), but here are some of the benefits and types of food that provide each of these categories. Most whole plant foods contain a mix of both soluble and insoluble fibres.

Soluble Fibre Foods:

Soluble fibre attracts water, so it turns to a gel when it enters your body, thus slowing your digestive process. Note that if you are supplementing with psyllium husk or any other soluble fibre product, make sure to consume it with a lot of water. Because it creates a gel, insufficient water will make it act more like a plug, causing constipation—uh oh!

  • Though fibre is commonly thought of as something that “makes you go,” because it slows the speed of digestion, it also helps manage diarrhea and loose stools.
  • It helps regulate blood sugar levels.
  • It lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
  • It reduces the risk of getting intestinal ulcers.
  • It may increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the colon.
  • It provides a feeling of satiation (feel full) without added caloric count.

To get more soluble fibre in your diet, include:

  • Oats/oat bran
  • Psyllium husk
  • Other grains like barley, bran, brown rice, and rye
  • Black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, soy beans, and other beans
  • Tofu, edamame
  • Vegetables like asparagus, beets, collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, green beans, peas, sweet potato, turnip
  • Fruits like apples, apricots, avocado, figs, pears, plums, prunes
  • Almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds

Insoluble Fibre Foods:

It makes sense, based off its name, that insoluble fibre does not bind itself to water and turn to gel, like the soluble fibre, but it does absorb water while moving through the digestive system, making for an easier passage. Insoluble fibre is found in many whole foods, but the highest amounts are often found in the parts of the foods that are tougher to chew, like cabbage, onions, bell peppers, and the skin of apples, cucumbers, and grapes.

  • It promotes regular bowel movements.
  • Because it absorbs water, it adds bulk to the stool to relieve constipation.
  • Speeding intestinal transit time helps it move toxic waste through the colon more quickly.
  • It assists in blood sugar regulation.
  • By optimizing intestinal pH, it helps prevent colon cancer.
  • It may increase the amount of healthy bacteria in the colon.
  • It provides a feeling of satiation (feel full) without added caloric count.

To get more insoluble fibre in your diet, include:

  • Wheat bran
  • Most whole grains, including barley, millet, rye
  • Most legumes, including kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, and pinto beans
  • Most vegetables, including broccoli, carrots, kale, okra, peas, potatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, squash, and turnip
  • Dried fruits, including dates and prunes
  • Berries, peels of apples, apricots, pears, and plums
  • Almonds, flax seeds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and walnuts

Next month I’ll include my TCM nutrition book section on how to store your oils.

More

Seriously, Laughter is Medicine

Still on my monthly habit building, last month I completed #jokeadayJuly. I committed to share a joke (at least one, sometimes more) every day for 31 days. I shared it on my Facebook page (Dr.Melissa Carr) and told it to various people around me throughout the day. 

It’s harder than you might think to find 31 decent (with both meanings of “not dirty” and also “okay”) jokes. But it was fun to search for jokes, and even to laugh at the ones that were truly bad (again, in both senses of the word). And, my favourite part was that friends also shared their jokes with me. 

paddleboardPurposefully seeking humour every day is a powerful medicine, even if it only produces a small smile or groaning giggle. Trying to tickle your funny bone means you are intentionally bringing positive into your life, and that bounces into the lives of others around you, and continuously comes back to you. It’s kind of like that paddle ball on an elastic band that you might have played with when you were a kid–but with the plus of not actually whacking you in the face when you miss. 

Laughter has been shown to:

  • Reduce feelings of stress
  • Stimulate your heart, lungs, and muscles
  • Burn calories
  • Stimulate blood circulation
  • Relax tight muscles
  • Ease pain
  • Improve immune function
  • Boost mood (duh)
  • Release endorphins

* Acupuncture does a lot of these too, by the way.

No joke, look up laughter on PubMed (a reputable source of research), and you’ll find a number of articles citing the value of laughter as medicine. 

These are some of what I thought were my best jokes of the month. Send me your best jokes!

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail, and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him…(oh, man, this is so bad, it’s good)…a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

What’s Orange and sounds like a Parrot? ……………..A Carrot.

Why did the hipster burn his mouth on a slice of pizza? He ate it before it was cool.

and lastly…

Two bass drums and a cymbal roll down a hill. Ba dum tssh.

 

More

Stomach Stapling for Kids?


Apparently more and more hospitals in the U.S. (not sure if it’s happening in Canada) are now offering stomach stapling procedures for children. Why is it that when we have to face something that requires long-term healthy lifestyle changes, we feel it will be better to choose the risky quick fix? What are we teaching our kids when we suggest just cutting out parts of our bodies that cause us problems rather than addressing the true causes–unhealthy lifestyles, poor eating habits, and lack of exercise?

Doctors supporting the surgery say that it will help to prevent future diseases associated with obesity, such as heart disease and diabetes. Does it really? Just because a person has a tiny stomach, doesn’t mean that they will be healthier!

Is this what we’re now calling “Preventative Medicine”? I think that it’s time that we started taking responsibility for ourselves and make the right choices. Yes, that can be challenging at first. But once a person gets over the hump of initial changes, it really is not that hard to do!

But that’s just my opinion. If you have (or if you don’t, imagine) an obese child, would you get the stomach stapling procedure done for him/her?

Oh, and one more thing. I came across this webpage and….this can’t be true: “Do-It-Yourself Stomach Stapling Kits!”??? I’m sure it isn’t, but take a read anyway: http://weeklyworldnews.com/features/technology/60807?printer=1

More
%d bloggers like this: