Archive for October, 2010

Stuff Whisperer – The Seasonal Shuffle

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

Oh for the love of stuff. As autumn days advance, last weekend I found myself shifting some of my stuff. You know the drill, the shifting of seasonal wear from whites, light cottons and brights to cozy cords, velvets and sweaters. It was crazy busy at work a little while ago so I was scheming for some shopping therapy as my guilty pleasure. I was struck by my aging wisdom to do the seasonal stuff shuffle first. How odd??

I found myself getting lost in stowing away a bunch of strappy sandals, summer t’s, jams and the like. I celebrate all of the seasons so this “changing of the stuff guards” is a good time take stock. I always find when I do this this I rediscover a coveted pair of boots or jeans or gloves that emerge like new again as the seasonal shuffle unfolds.

After doing other outdoor activities this weekend I actually needed to trek to the mall. Really!! Hmmmmm what trouble could I get myself in? I thought I’d go during the late afternoon lull. Was I ever wrong, lull, what lull?? Despite it not even being November yet, there was hardly a parking spot in sight. Oh joy….A little extra walking suits me fine after a few too many Halloween treats. Sadly there were Christmas trees decorated and songs of the next season playing, huh?? The leaves are still changing, now this? How much earlier can they start this materialistic madness, maybe after “back to school” next year. What gives??

As much as I love stuff I wasn’t feeling “ho ho ho” jolly for next season yet, but “ho ho ho and a bottle of rum” melancholy to numb me from the mega shopping madness all around. I had a sick feeling in my stomach. Yes, it could have been in part from a few too many mini Aero bars from my Halloween stash, I don’t know.

Perhaps as I am aging, I may be getting wiser. I only picked up what I went for then vamoosed out of there. I need to reacquaint myself with my newly organized stuff before tempting myself with more, more, more. I may not even have a place for another piece of stuff. Oh for the love of stuff.

As Spock from Star Trek said “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing… as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.” I hope my ears don’t start getting pointy. Good grief….

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Halloween Dreaming

October 28th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

It’s that time of year again – leaves falling, temperatures dipping and little goblins planning their trick or treating. Ahhh Halloween.  I look forward to this day. A good excuse to wear orange. An acceptable reason to have extra treats in the house. A perfect time to connect with the kids and families in the neighbourhood. What’s not to love!!

It’s fun to have a spirited day to dress up funny and shell out. Anyone who knows me, realizes it doesn’t have to be Halloween to do that :-) Yes, you astute T & T followers will recognize that princess cum brides-maid dress mentioned August 18 post!! Believe it or not, it was worn more than once and these photos prove it….ah I digress.

I have a special door bell that has many different themed settings as chimes. One features Halloween. When pressed you can hear a witch screach “AaaaaaAaaaa” (no that’s not me, it’s the other one…), a horn honk “beep beep”, a door slam “slam”, a ghost bellow “wooooOOooooOO”, a gong chime….. How fun!! What I love the most is that every kid who comes to my door says “thank you”. I know I’m turning into an ole fogey, but I do appreciate good manners even when they trample my flower bed.

Once the shelling out is done it’s great when parents divide and conquer, sorting through the treats before the noshing begins with safety in mind. Make a few rules around these and keep ‘em for a few weeks then give them away. It’s fun days like this where we challenge our relationship with food. As I’ve said many times all foods fit and work it in. Up the ante on activity. With the last of the leaves falling, extra yard work is certainly in order.

I usually wait until a few days before the big day to pick up my treats. You name it, I get it – chips, Cheetos, chocolate bars, candy, the full court press of offerings. It’s Halloween folks, kids don’t want “healthy treats” and neither do I as I sit at the door when the tykes drop by. Save the bridge games for the old folks home!! This is one of those occasions to take part in and have fun – eat, eat and be merry. When the sugar rush wears off, it’ll be time for school and work the morning after. Enjoy!!

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Veggie Might?

October 27th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

I have talked about the many ways of doing the same thing right about food and nutrition. Becoming a vegetarian is certainly one way of eating that deserves the two thumbs up in spades. There are a lot of ways of becoming vegetarian with it’s own spectrum of norms. The majority are certainly healthful, could be very economical and definitely ethical.

I’ve talked about how the general public routinely misses the mark on getting enough veggies in their diet. Moving into this regimen could park that issue for you altogether. A vast proportion of people on our planet have been vegetarian for centuries so this isn’t some new fangled fad. It is one regimen that is here to stay. If I had a crystal ball it might be THE way to eat well into the future.

If you’re planning on taking the plunge into this diet-stratosphere I suggest you become informed on the details. You don’t want to play dietary Snakes and Ladders by trying to get ahead by making this change, then become deficient in say vitamins B6 and B12 because you didn’t do your homework. The book Becoming Vegetarian by Vesanto Melina will surely put you on the right track and is considered the veggy “bible”. Amen!!

For main stream vegetarianism it’s all about leaving out meat and meat products. Some include fish, some don’t. The lacto-ovo vegetarian includes milk and milk products and eggs. If you’re slipping your big toe into the proverbial “vegetarian pond” for the first time this might be a good way to start. Close attention to getting enough protein and overall balance is paramount, especially if shifting the whole family onto this path.

I say bravo to people who want to make this change for the better. If you find yourself wanting to “move your cheese”, good luck to you on this. And do weigh in on how it’s going. We’d love to know.

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Women, Food & Guilt

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

Although I am a dietitian by trade I feel I can write about the ins and outs of guilt like a true expert. After all, I am an Italian woman :-) The guilty gene comes with the territory.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on eating tips for kids. Last week on October 19 I wrote about setting limits with kids for situations where interactional issues may exist. Since then I’ve done more thinking about this topic and interestingly the notion of guilt bubbled to the surface, hmmmmmm.

Ah guilt. Guilt seems to be a roadblock of sorts that gets in the way of setting consistent limits with kids. Funny, when I was growing up I never perceived guilt when my Mom told my sisters and me “no” when she set limits. Why has this mountain of guilt piled up like toxic waste in a landfill these days??

Every generation aims to do better and be wiser than the generation before. That’s all well and good until we tripped up on our own self acceptance, don’t you think? Are we good enough? When we make a stand will people still accept us? It would seem that we grown-ups are questioning ourselves to the max like it’s an extreme sport: Are we good enough offspring to our parents….even as adults? Are we good enough wives to our husbands….even after years of marriage? Are we good enough mothers to our children? Are we good enough employees to our employers? Are we good…..Time!!

Oy oy oy, it’s time we stopped the madness. Yes it’s helpful to self-reflect but at some point we just need our motto to be “Just do it….already and STOP second guessing yourself”. The self help book industry needs to help save us from ourselves it would seem. It’s as if there’s a disconnect from our brain to our heart when we cave with kids. It’s the emergence of the wishy-washy gene perhaps…

The brain is our center of reason, knowing right from wrong, good from bad, normal from the absurdly ridiculous. But then our heart chimes in with the “ya but’s….” and the “what if’s…” and the “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s” ’til the cows come home. After that all sense turns into NONsense as wisdom goes out the window.

When your kid starts whining that other kids don’t have to make their lunch or do chores around the house or play outside and be active, or whatever, do what my Grandmother used to do – tune them out….la la la la la la. Talk to the hand kids. I’m doing you a favour. Save the empathy for when you need it, but put a lid on it until you do.

Start by looking in the mirror and accepting yourself. Realize that you ARE good enough. If your folks don’t agree with everything you do in this era, well that’s ok. Agree to disagree, then park it. How old are you now anyways?? If your hubby is outpacing you with doing tasks from the job jar he might have a case. Stats show the division of labour is the other way around, so take a pill. And when you KNOW you’re making the right decisions with your kids don’t look back like a lilly livered lemur questioning yourself, look forward like a lion and move on. ROARRRRR!!

At the end of the day when you boil it all down about loving your kids, it’s the tough love that is best love of all.

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Monkey Business – Caffeine Crescendo

October 25th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Ok what gives everybody? We’re surrounded!! It seems that every corner, every drive through, every break-time, every kitchenette, every vending machine includes something with caffeine in it. What are we having a competition on this, or what??
Be Aware
Don’t get me wrong I’m a coffee lover. I need my double espresso jolt in the morning to bring my blood pressure above where I won’t faint upon standing. Then I’m done for the day. I used to drink a lot more coffee and realized my heart palpitations and sleepless nights were caused by “oh, just one more cup” by being social. Don’t be like me and wait for your ticker to tell you to ease up. Do try it before.
Take Stock
Take stock about when you’re getting your caffeine fixes – coffee, tea, colas, even chocolate. Make yourself an upper limit, say 2 servings/day then put a lid on it, don’t you think?? The nice thing about this habit is that there are oh so many caffeine free alternatives you can replace your bevy’s with. If you caffeine mix to the max, cut back slowly. Caffeine is a drug after all and you can experience withdrawal symptoms if you try the “cold turkey” approach and change too quickly.
What’s In It?
While you’re taking stock on this take a read of some of the ingredient lists of some of the bevy’s your guzzling. I don’t know about you but if I heard that a nail can disintegrate when plunked into a certain cola drink I’d think twice about belting that back pretty quick. Rather I’d be saying “whoooo horsey” to ease up. I’m just sayin……
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The Home Plate Strike Out or Home Run

October 24th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Are you striking out or hitting a home run at home plate lately??  Think about what you’ve been dishing up for dinner recently. For starters, take a moment to ponder this past week’s dinners, hmmmmmmm. Did your family eat together or were you flying solo? Was it a clutch and grab eating on the run play or was it a sit and enjoy serenity now scenario? Were all of the food groups included in the meal or were some sidelined on the bench??

Evaluate Your Plate

It makes a lot of sense to reflect on what you’re doing. By looking back your can better plan ahead with greater consciousness and care. National intake data indicate that many people’s diets fall short of veggies and milk products on a regular basis for starters. Does this apply to you??

Eating Economics

Some people think it costs a lot of money to eat healthily when in fact it doesn’t really have to. Get in the habit of including seasonal, local produce. Branch out a bit and learn to prepare some simple meals with beans and legumes. You can also trade off serving meat, fish or poultry with having eggs for dinner. These ideas can infuse greater balance in your diet without breaking the bank. Really you can’t afford not to give these ideas a try.

Eating In & Eating Out

Eating outside of the home or ordering in is a more usual dinner play for many families. There are acceptable choices out there, you just need to learn about them. Get your kids to look up some of your favourite dining spots on the internet that have nutritional information about their menu items. You might be astounded when you learn what’s in your usual fair. Consider trying some new cultural cuisine – Thai, Japanese, Indian, Greek, Italian or Mexican for instance. I suggest you steer clear of the new KFC Double Down as a regular choice :-0

Best Intentions Get Fulfilled with Taking the First Step

Many consumers have good intentions to eat well and want to be healthy. Unfortunately, they’ll get to it some time down the road. As the song says Maniana. Well change your tune and commit to begin today, right now, this minute. Health, wellness and feeling great is the best gift you can bestow yourself and your family.

When you’re planning your meals for this week, make your play a grand slam :-)

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Daily Eating VORTEX Wisdom

October 21st, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

As Stephan Covey says “Start as you mean to finish”. It’s always good to have a pearl of wisdom inspire you through any difficult circumstance. This one applies to many aspects of life. Here is some food for thought, though to get you through eating challenges when you want to cave to tempation. Don’t cave, be brave!!

“Just for today” mindset – some people get psyched out when they think too far ahead – food, goals, situations, challenges, holidays. Keep your focus on today, this very moment. Then every day forward will look after itself. (see post June 14)

Ate too much yesterday?? Think you’ll cut back today and begin by skipping breakfast – Uh, uh huh. Think again!! Start off right by HAVING a balanced breakfast. And do yourself a favor – up the ante on exercise for a few days. Look forward and don’t commiserate on the past.

Hunger and satiety – How often do we eat and overshoot satiety to the point of feeling like you’re going to burst?? Everyday be aware of hunger and satiety and work on a better balance between the two.

Lead or follow?? Do you fall victim to your friends and colleagues eating jags?? Think you’ll fit in better by noshing on Janey’s jube-jubes? THINK AGAIN. Lead don’t follow. Soon they’ll be sipping mineral water with lime at their desk, just like you.

Concerned about holiday eating? Well, get up and go – up the ante on your exercise and plan your eating a tad more carefully. Focus on your favorite fitted outfits and all of a sudden the plum pudding with béchamel sauce doesn’t seem quite as enticing.

Skip, skip, skip – rope but not meals! The worst thing you can do to bung up an eating routine and metabolism is skip meals. You’re body will combat by lowering your internal thermostat sending you 10 steps back, like a bad game of Snakes and Ladders.

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Food Revolution Pasta, Egg & Asparagus

October 20th, 2010 No Comments Tags: ,

I just love this dish and wanted to share it with you. One thing I’d suggest is have an open mind to trying something new – eggs and pasta. I know, the first few times I heard about this sort of dish I got squeamish, because after all eggs are a breakfast food and go with toast, right? Well, yes and no, because eggs go with every meal, only limited by your imagination. First, I witness this recipe demonstrated by Mark Bitman and saw an easy recipe in The Oprah Magazine. I thought, why not, now hubby boy asks for it from time to time.


6-10 steamed asparagus spears, cut diagonally into 2 inch pieces (heated)

4-8 slices of cooked peameal bacon (Canadian back bacon), chopped (heated)

6-8 crushed garlic cloves, cooked until softened (heated)

Parmesan cheese

Olive oil

Capellini or spegattini pasta noodles

hot pepper to taste


Prepare asparagus, peameal bacon and sautéed garlic and put aside until ready. You need to time this perfectly so be on your toes!!

Boil the water for cooking the pasta, in one pot. Once the water is boiled add the pasta and cook until done. In the photo, I used rice spaghetti noodles and it tasted terrific. Strain the noodles then add the heated and cooked asparagus, bacon and garlic. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese and olive oil on the noodles then combine until the ingredients are evenly mixed. Using tongs add a serving to each dish.

Meanwhile, time your preparation of the fried eggs to be perfectly soft-medium about 1 minute after your finished the step above. Carefully add 1-2 fried eggs on top of your noodle mixture. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and chilli peppers and serve immediately piping hot.


Really folks, this is one of those yummy dishes that’s so tasty yet good for you and pretty economical as well. Move your cheese and give it a try. You’ll be glad you did!!

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Setting Limits with Kids in a Limitless Society

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

You’d think we were living in Vegas or something. “Anything goes” seems to be the motto on the beat these days. “Ah let them have fun they’re just kids”….this morphs into….

  • Let them go where they want…
  • Let them do what they want…
  • Let them act the way they want…and
  • Let them eat what they want.

STOP! That’s were I come in. In the post on October 4 and April 11 I raddled off many tips and tricks for parents to get them started with kids, eating and activity if weight is an issue. I touched on “setting limits” because volumes can be written on this topic.

Yes limits, kids despise them, parents surmise them but the tykes simply thrive with them. It’s true. Yes it takes some effort, but you AND your child will reap the benefits in spades. Ok so here are some common situations with suggested solutions I’ve seen over the years:

Mom’s a Short Order Cook – “Eggs Over Easy….”

Little Johnny has mom wrapped around his little finger. When a meal is prepared she’ll compensate with one dish after another and yet another in a merry-go-round of short order cooking. “Oh I don’t want him to go hungry!!” If this is you STOP. You are the boss remember. YOU make the rules. Choose common foods for the kids to eat. Take the “eye of nute” off the menu for the time being. Present the food to them in an age appropriate fashion. Some toddlers go through stages where they don’t want various food to touch or they despise mucky sauces. You can play this game. But you serve the food and they eat it. No forcing. No crying. No punishing. No threatening. After a reasonable meal time of say 20 minutes when everyone is done put the food away. And voila. If Little Johhny’s still hungry because he kicked up a fuss with you and you didn’t fall for his games he can wait until snack time before bed. Period.

In this scenario offer 3 meals and 2-3 snacks/day, nothing unlimited. Drinks are at meal times and water is served in between. No wandering juice cups for every waking hour. Make limits. Stick to them. And a little rumbling tumbly will teach Little Johnny to eat when it’s meal or snack time. Not when he bloody well pleases. He’s playing a game with you and stringing you along…..

Mom & Dad Playing By Different Rules – UN-United We Stand

Most kids are smarter than Einstein when it comes to playing parents off one another. Get your rules straight and be a united front. When 1 of you caves no one wins. Especially your child.

The Kids Drink Flavour Drinks Til They Look Like a Koolaid Jug

Ok folks drinks are food too and need to be treated as such. We live in a society where our vehicles are customized for jumbo travel cups. DON’T FALL FOR IT. Most of us are NOT living in the Sahara Desert. Let’s have bevy’s at meal and snack time as noted above not 24/7.

As I mentioned before, water’s ok in between meals.  For now if weight is an issue let’s only have milk at meals and no juice. NO juice isn’t bad. But let’s get Little Johnny in the habit of eating his fruit instead of drinking his fruit up the whazoo for the time being. Eating involves chewing and swallowing and registers to a greater degree with hunger and satiety cues.

The TV Makes a Great Babysitter – NOT!!

Ahh for the love of zombies. My Mom used to call the TV “the idiot box”. I think the term still applies…. 500 channels later. Research shows limiting screen time to a few hours per day will help with Little Johhny’s weight. Turn off the tube and every other GD computer game and get the kids outside playing….

Oh My, the Boogey Man Lives Next Door

Do you live in fear because you watch the 6 o’clock news?? Ya, me too. Become aware of the safety stats in your neighbourhood and use common sense getting the kids to go outside and play. Team up with other parents to take turns watching the kids play but for goodness sake let them play and be active.

Kids Don’t Have a Clue About the Basics…

…of making something as simple as a sandwich; I talked about this in my August 19th post and April 11th. When age appropriate, get kids involved in the details about food, meal planning, grocery shopping, food prep and dare I say cleaning up. Who are you, the GD maid?? They need to learn these life skills. Get them involved early on.

When the Kids Whine They Get Their Way – “Yay Fast Food Again”

Now after it’s all said and done and you’ve planned out your meals for the week don’t cave and hit the drive through just because the kids are whining. Turn a deaf ear to it. Yes all foods fit and work it into the family regimen. But NO – do not give in because you’ll end up wasting a lot of good food. What are you teaching them about all of this? Teach them something important like “waste not want not”.

Ok folks, so I’ll be wearing my witch costume for Halloween this year :-) I know I sound like an ole meanie. In fact it is the parent who does not set limits who is the REAL meanie in this scenario. Like the saying goes “no means no”…..

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Business Travel Bupkiss – The Longer Trek

October 18th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I covered the topic of business travel using the “short trip” scenario on September 14. Now I wanted to cover the longer jaunt. The kind that shakes up your sleeping pattern by changing timezones. With different cultural practices, food, water – you name it everything gets turned on it’s head.

Resolve to Stick to Your Plan

For starters all good intentions begin with a solid plan. Resolve!! This begins at the airport. If you’re a frequent business flyer you may have access to the coveted lounge. Like the expense account food and drink in these places might “be free” but the calories still count. If you haven’t already do so from home, grab an extra piece of fruit for your travel bag because it may take a day or so for you to adjust to the time change. Better you have a banana on hand when your blood sugar plunges rather than be faced with the mini-bar oozing with calorific treats.

De Plane De Plane

Now sitting in economy class doesn’t actually cause too much of an eating dilemma for most. You’d think you were on the set of Honey I Shrunk the Kids with eensy beensy, teeny weeny serving sizes. It’s great practice coming from super size haven of the airport to this. Eat slowly, chew every morsel ’cause there are no second servings. Don’t over do it with the alcohol though to make up for the calories saved with your tiny meal.

If; however, you are sitting in business class, it’s a whole other ballgame of rules when you slip pass the curtain – bottomless drinking glasses, nuts galore. All this and more even before the plane takes off. There’s a lot of temptation that needs to be tempered with a dose of reality if you want to stay ahead of the 8-ball before you reach your destination. The meals are usually very nice and the desserts are divine, but I know first hand there are healthier choices.  So folks, keep your plans in the upright position and steer clear of the molten lava cake. Yes all calories still count at forty thousand feet.

Hospitality Surrounds You – When in Rome…..

….do what the Romans do!! If your business travel takes you to experience different cultures DO partake in the hospitality to a reasonable degree. That’s what life’s about, learning about others ways, foods, customs. It’s so enriching. Master the art of trading off though, written about on May 6. It’s true you can’t always get what you want….and if you do your trousers won’t fit you for the plane ride home.

New Awakenings

People deal with the time change quite differently. What works for me is, as soon as I embark on the plane I change my watch to my next destination’s time and try to get my head around it. If it’s beddy-bye time there, turn out your light and say nite nite and do your best to rest. I see some people on the plane working like bangees. It makes me wonder how they’re going to perform in their meetings with no rest. If you don’t catch some zzzz’s your foreign colleagues will certainly have the upper hand on you when you’re dozing off in tomorrow’s meeting. Not good!!

Like I mentioned it may take your tummy a day or two (or more) to acclimatize to the new time zone. Have some healthy snacks on hand for when your blood sugar plummets. Say “stick em up” to your hunger with the banana you snagged from the lounge. This’ll hold you over now until your next meal.

Checking Out the Place

Provided your situated in a safe location try to take the time to check out your destination with long walks. Ask the front desk where the safe spots are to roam around and go clear your head with a walking tour of sorts. It’s so enriching to experience your destination and take it all in, just in case you don’t have the ability to return. It’s a big world out there, so take some time to discover it.

So there you have it, a few tips and tricks to handle business travel abroad. Do you have any tricks you use and want to share??

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