Archive for March, 2010

Easter Feasts & "Fasts" – Needing Help Soon

March 31st, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

Scenario: You’re invited to dine at your folk’s house for family Easter dinner.

Doing some strategizing around your special feast is an exercise you’ll want to build into your “robot” repertoire. When automatic behaviours that sustain good eating and health are programmed in you can handle most any eating vortex situation.

Tips for Needing Help Soon

  • Get your exercise in earlier in the day and avoid leaving it until after dinner, in case you’re too tired.
  • Plan your eating for the day to enjoy the traditional family food without all of the extras. If you plan to “black list” your favourites, you’ll feel deprived. Enjoy, but be reasonable!
  • Wear an outfit you feel simply divine in. Nothing with an elastic waist, draw string, mu mu. When you look great chances are you will avoid gorging. You don’t want that zipper to burst, do you??
  • Never arrive famished. Have a snack to get your appetite in check before you leave the house. Choose a snack with some protein in it – this will promote slower digestion and the feeling of satiety, so it’s best able to cut the edge of your appetite before you arrive. A few examples are:  glass of skim milk, low fat yoghurt, handful of roasted nuts.
  • Bring a hostess gift that’ll double as a diet-friendly option for you. Buy a fancy bottle of mineral water or some wine you actually enjoy drinking (you may as well use your calories on food you love!) or stop at the store on the way and pick up a prepared fresh fruit or veggie tray.
  • If at all possible avoid drinking alcohol until you have your plate of food is ready to eat. Imbibing as soon as you get in the door may help you deal with your kooky Uncle Ned, but it will throw your plan off course.
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Easter Feasts & "Fasts" – Planning Ahead

March 30th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Scenario: You’re invited to dine at your folk’s house for family Easter dinner.

Special family occasions are a time to cherish. Alas, Easter week is upon us. If you’re working toward fitting into your bathing suit by May all of the proverbial “fasting” can put a monkey wrench into your plans if you don’t do some stealth planning.

Let’s take charge this week and work toward the family feasting and “fasting” to enjoy it to the max without wreaking havoc on your waistline.

Let’s Plan Ahead

  • Learn to differentiate between love through food sharing/pushing vs diet saboteurs as the strategies you use will be different.
  • Offer to prepare a dish for the dinner. Tell the hostess that “it’s your specialty and everyone raves about it” – chances are she’ll accept your generosity. Prepare a healthy option that you’ll feel good about eating (and serving to others).
  • Find out what’s on the menu. Knowing what’s being served makes you better able to plan what you’re going to eat.
  • You might want to convince that loving relative to eat at your place where you are better able to control the entire situation. Preparing food yourself will allow you to know what’s in it and how it’ll be served. “Under my roof it’s my rules” may apply at their house, but the same goes when you entertain in YOUR home.
  • Plan to enjoy the special foods unique to the holiday without overdoing it.
  • Up the ante on your exercise regimen early in the week and try not to skip a day to help burn some of those extra calories that creep in after the Easter egg hunt.

While we’re planning for the “calories in” and “calories out” get a handled on the interactional component of family gatherings. Funny how even the most mature adults revert to their childish ways at times like these. If there’s a fence to mend with an in-law or out-law take the high road and deal with it ahead early in the week. A lot of work goes into preparing these special meals and who wants to spoil it with a family feud just as the main course is served.

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Dressing for Dieting Success

March 29th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

You look maaarvelous darling!! Why is it when we look good we feel good, when we feel good we “act” good and simply put we ARE good?? Cara and I did a survey of women who lost weight successfully (aka “successful losers”). This is what some of our respondents said about how they approach getting dressed:

  • “On days where I am having a hard time I try to look better to inspire myself”
  • “If I dress a bit nicer and put more effort into my appearance, I feel better about myself, which in turn helps me to stick with my workout and diet routine.”
  • “When I look good I think twice about stuffing myself.”
  • “When I feel good about myself I take extra care of what I eat. It’s a positive cycle!”

So how difficult is it to do this day after day??

  • Eating from the inside out – you eat better when you feel better about yourself, period
  • Dressing for zest – focus in on your everyday clothes and colours that make you look and feel your best
  • Hair apparent – if looking in the mirror makes you think of Halloween get thee to the salon!
  • Know your assets – accentuate the positive, just like the song says
  • Get real and stay real – 50 is the new 50 period, deal with it. Dress your age.
  • Dressing on all cylinders – take a few extra minutes each evening to decide what to wear tomorrow. This will help you jump start your day and feel your best from the outset.

There are useful books and television shows on this topic to assist you on this quest. There is even a web-site called where you can post a picture of yourself in an outfit and surfers on that site will give you an opinion. It really is worth the effort and it doesn’t have to take loads of time. Isn’t it better to wear the one outfit everyday that makes you feel wonderful rather than a whole closet full of clothes that make you feel like a frump? You decide.

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Driven to Distraction

March 26th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Oprah’s “No Phone Zone” pledge is all the rage these days to get people to stop driving with phone distractions. But what about eating while driving? I was driving home from work today and the lady in the mini-van behind me was scarfing down a bag of potato chips – one potato, two potato, three potato, four potato, five potato, six potato, seven potato more! I WAS watching the road, but noticed as I glanced in my rear view mirror.

Food is one of life’s perfect pleasures. At least it should be. Potato chips are great. They’re the perfect fix for the “salt/crunch needing” PMS cravings and in moderation of course. You want ‘em, then have ‘em. Put them in a bowl,  pour yourself a nice cold bevy, sit down and enjoy.

Alas, let’s dissect that disgusting habit of chowing down in the car. You’ve got salty, greasy hands all over the germy steering wheel, crumbs down the front of your clothes and as you barbarically grab and munch you reach to the bottom of the bag and don’t even realize the bag’s empty. UG. If you rolled down your window during this escapade you’d get crumbs in your eyes!! OH what a sight! Some might say it’s a guilty pleasure. I can see the guilt, but where’s the pleasure?

We all know why we shouldn’t eat with distractions, but let’s remind ourselves again. When we’re concentrating on something else (like driving), other than eating we’re tuned out from those very important hunger and satiety cues. Often times we can polish off a lot of food without the feeling of fullness. You can take in a lot of calories in one go. We also miss out on the simple pleasure of enjoying the food, experiencing the good taste, the yummy crunch.

So remember, all foods can fit into your regimen. How you eat is as important as WHAT you eat. Sit down, use a plate and utensils, put down the newspaper, book, turn off the TV and definitely don’t eat and drive. Honour your food.

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Posted in Eating Vortex, Foodie Fundamentals, Francy Rants, Funnies By a Foodie, Miss Behavin' | No Comments »

Thoughts on Food in Schools

March 25th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was brought up during the era where you could get Jelly Tots from the vending machine and Mountain Dew from the soda pop machine in school. Over the past number of years many municipalities have clamoured over developing quite pure school food policies. I’m all for feeding kids right but they are the first to sense when something’s amiss in their environment. For instance, when you remove every stitch of food kids classify as “goodies” and have teachers single out kids bringing them to school, they imply these foods are “bad” foods. What happens next. Kids, like adults, when they’re cornered by such policy end up wanting the “black listed” food so much more. Once they have it, they are filled with guilt and feel they are bad by having it. A terrible negative cycle.

I had a conversation with a teacher friend of mine who told me they now “catch kids in the bathroom scarfing down goodies in the toilet stalls”. In my day it was smoking, now it’s Doritos!! Is this what we want? Are we moving to the point where we’re creating food sneaking and bingeing behaviour because of our pure policy? We need to make a plan for our kids with precision, so not to create a bigger problem for them with food and eating for generations to come. Whatever we teach kids should be balance and moderation. We need this for us as adults and they need it even more to form a healthy relationship with food.

Now when I was young my Mother set limits on all sorts of things and didn’t show us her guilt by telling us “no”. Many lessons were learned by those limits and kids these days could use these in moderation as well.

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Last Supper Getting Bigger Through the Age

March 24th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , ,

In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity this week by Dr. Brian Wansink and his brother Craig, 52 painting depictions of The Last Supper were evaluated for food serving size. Dr. Brian Wansink is a well know researcher from Cornell University and author of Mindless Eating and his brother Craig, professor of religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College teamed up on this.

Although the findings suggest larger portions of food depicted through the ages, it can probably be boiled down to artists’ outdoing their predecessor. The results beg us to discuss serving size in the present day, which is a worthwhile endeavour.

People are well aware that people around globe have become overweight and obese from the ’70′s to today to a staggering degree. The problem is multi factorial; however, growing serving sizes are a definite contributor to the problem. In fact if we zero in on the muffin serving over time, they’ve grown in proportion to population “butt size” or “muffin top” from the 70′s to today!! A dismaying but true correlation.

It’s time to end portion distortion and sit back and look at what we’re serving ourselves of all foods. If your dinner plates are the size of “old day” serving plates you may want to rethink their contribution to the problem. Here are some more tips:

  • use a salad plate for meals and smaller glasses to drink from
  • when eating out choose to share your entrée or take home a doggie bag
  • order an appetizer for your main course
  • generally stay away from the “all you can eat buffet” and “bottomless beverage” – after all how much money are you saving in the long run.

You may even want to take stock for a week or two comparing weights and measures with Canada’s Food Guide or the US Food Pyramid to retrain your eyes as it relates to food serving size. There are many ways to make easy changes to eat more healthily, focusing in on serving size is just one.

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Can you relate??

March 23rd, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Are you familiar with this place? Do you live in the whirling eddy of the eating vortex? Do you constantly get sucked into the tornado of overindulgence even though you try to fight against it? The answer may be YES if any of these scenarios sound vaguely familiar:

  • You skip breakfast and end up starving by 10 am, so you grab a slice of banana cake at a coffee shop (but rationalize that it’s okay since bananas are healthy).
  • Your night time routine consists of you, a sofa, the remote control and a bag of chips (or cookies, or popcorn, or cereal, or your other favourite crunchy edible).
  • You consume more calories while preparing dinner than you do when you actually eat dinner, and you eat all remaining morsels of food from your kids’ plates.
  • You eat well from Monday to Friday but lose control all weekend – beer, burritos, burgers and brownies, baby!
  • You always give into guilt and have seconds (or fifths) your mom’s meatloaf, or her apple pie, or her fried chicken, or her double chocolate caramel cheesecake with the cookie crumb crust or her….
  • You pamper yourself with food rewards – like a box of chocolates – as a pat on the back for a job well done.
  • You believe that a buffet is really about eating “all you can eat.”
  • You think that calories don’t count when you’re on vacation.
  • You eat mass quantities of comfort foods to deal with stress.

If you answered YES to one or more of these questions, you are likely stuck in the eating vortex. The good news is that with a little knowledge, some helpful tips and a dash of personal empowerment, you can successfully navigate your way through the vortex and learn the skills required to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. I’m here to tell you that it can be done – and know this first hand. I’ve done it!

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Break it Down, Work it Out

March 23rd, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Feel like you don’t have time for exercise? Think again!! You don’t have time NOT to exercise. Break it down into 15 minute intervals and work in at least 3 intervals in your day.

Do you compartmentalize parts of your day? If time runs away with you, which is common, is your exercise time the first to go?? Be flexible – with your time as well as your body!! Two 15 minute intervals of doing something is better than a scheduled 60 minutes of spin class that you paid for AND can’t make.

We often think of the benefits of exercise on the body. But exercise is like a treadmill for the mind too. Are you stuck in a rut at work and processing a problem?? Take it to the street my friend. Chances are as you will work it out double duty when exercising the mind AND body. Your spirit will sparkle as well.

Is business travel in your future?? Get yourself booked into a hotel with a gym, pool or a location conducive to walking. Chances are you’ll be the most productive member at the meeting!!

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Expand Your Definition of Exercise

March 22nd, 2010 No Comments Tags: , ,

Many people have a narrow definition of exercise. Any form of physical activity increasing your respiratory rate through movement fits the bill. This spring face your disorganized basement or garage that has turned into a “catch all” with the vim and vigor of part of your exercise routine. Turn up the dancing tunes and head into your cave for a fixed time period (say 30 or 60 minutes). You’ll be surprised how this dovetailing exercise both invigorates and cleanses while you organize. Do the same in your cupboard, den or closet and your pad will humming neat in no time while you’re burning extra calories.

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Eating & Emotions

March 19th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Food is a funny thing. It’s so much more than the vitamins and minerals it provides us. For some whose emotions trigger over-eating it’s beneficial to tease out these triggers – happiness, sadness, anger, fear, emptiness even boredom. A long term goal is to learn to feel these emotions, experience and deal with them without the need for food. Work toward boiling it all down to hunger being the greatest trigger for food and satiety, the signal that you’ve had enough.

Many years ago I was an emotional eater. You name the emotion and I chomped down to that tune. Through years of journaling and analyzing food intake, degree of hunger and satiety and feelings, helped me deal with these constructively. It’s definitely worth the long haul of work to figure your eating mystery out. Everyone is certainly different.

Funny this morning I had a play-date scheduled with my good friend Cara and daughter KC. It just so happened that KC’s Zaida dropped in with Chulla bread which we shared over the “tea party” portion of our visit. What a special surprise! As I drove home I felt the love of a Dad and Zaida from our connection of sharing tea and Chulla. How special is that?? I would never suggest being so disconnected from your emotions, so that never the two shall meet. After all I’m Italian and Cara is Jewish – emotions come with the territory.

Note to self – make sure you schedule the next play date when Zaida visits :-)

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