Archive for October, 2010

Our Body is Our Temple

October 17th, 2010 1 Comment Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We all know somebody who toddles through life as if the rules on the “natural order” of things don’t pertain to them. Perhaps they abuse their body with food. Maybe it’s alcohol. Others choose to smoke. Some inundate themselves with stress. While some over-medicate. There are king-pins who get the trophy for competing in life as if they were in a contest to outdo Keith Richards. All I can say to that is “oy oy oy”.

As corny as it sounds our body is our temple. Really folks, this bio-machine is built tough and can run for decades. It’s truly magical what our bodies can endure. I don’t know about you though, I don’t want to take any chances and end up being the smartest one in the graveyard by pushing the envelope by experimenting, do you??

I’m pretty health and wellness minded as I round the corner approaching age 50, but I’m not a purist. I’m a realist.  There are so many things we can do to help ourselves realistically to lead healthier lives it’s simply staggering. I think this blog has a multitude of tips and ideas to help you. However, I do feel there is so much hype that some people get confused by the many mixed messages on the airwaves and simply throw their hands up in despair. If you’re feeling this way, do let me know so we can tease out the fact from the fiction. Find yourself a few key confidants who double as experts and keep focused. Avoid seeking advice from friends or foes who aren’t experts because that’s when the waters begin to get murky.

I have talked a number of times about taking the RealAge Test (the link’s on the right). It’s a thorough test that covers all the risk factors and then some. If you haven’t already done so, go ahead and take it. I’m sure it will be enlightening for you. It also provides a practical list of suggestions custom for you once you complete it.

If you recall I wrote about “Old Dogs & New Tricks” back on May 19 so give it a re-read as a refresher. If others are going through life in self-abuse mode, I suggest you lead by example and be a positive force. All lecturing and finger-wagging will do is create a rift and bad feelings, which is something you probably did not intend. Channel your energy by focusing on you and your body as temple. Each new day is a new frontier of possibilities.

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If you don’t use it….

October 15th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Oh for the love of running. I found myself moseying down to the centre of town in Brussels some time ago when the city marathon galloped through my path. Being blocked from proceeding down to the town I meandered along the barricaded street along side the runners. The pitter-patter-pounding on the cobble street; running, sweating, heads bobbing, I could feel the energy as I proceeded. It made me think of the Pamplona – The Running of the Bulls in Spain.

I too was a runner many decades ago. Well a jogger, really. I participated in a multitude of 10K “races” and 2-20K runs. That’s the extend of me actually DOING a marathon, adding up a few races to equal one. The great thing about entering a race is that for me I’d run against my personal best time. I would usually end up coming in the last quarter of the heat. Truly though, I’m not really all that athletic, not very flexible, not all that strong. Nonetheless I move, I stretch and I lift weights. Like I’ve mentioned before I’m more like a tortoise, “slow and steady wins the race”.

I do recall when I decided to take up jogging when I was young. My Dad mapped out a 1-mile route for starters. I distinctly remember that first time out. What I thought would be a cinch in the car felt like a 1-mile marathon on the street – feet pounding, thighs rubbing, sucking wind with a sharp stitch in my side. Being a hard headed Italian I was too proud to stop before I reached the mile. As the weeks went on that mile became easier to complete then I yearned to do 2-miles then 3, and even more.

Somehow in the process it taught me about setting goals and the accomplishment you feel when you reach them. It’s a metaphor for anything you take on in life really. You may stand in-front of a pyramid-sized problem. But then you break it down into blocks, taking on 1 block at a time. Soon you’ll be whizzing through with ease and assurance until you’ve conquered it. Eureka!!

My exercise regimen has morphed through the decades when I first decided to vamoose and get moving. That’s what I love about exercise. Whether you’re an iron-man victor or a daily walker, the important thing is to do something, anything. Our bodies were made to move – run, walk, jump, dance, ski, rollerblade, swim, samba, saunter, although some better than others. I love how neighbourhood malls have even turned into safe-haven walking trails for the fair weather types. If you haven’t already done so, join in. There really isn’t any excuse NOT to participate. Because at the end of the day, it’s true, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

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Mission Impossible?? Mission Accomplished!!

October 14th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’ve been following the Chilean rescue mission of the miners for the past months. An astounding situation like that gets me thinking a lot about various circumstances, hmmmmm. Well if patience is a virtue then these 33 men are certainly the “patience” poster boys. I find in our instant society waiting for something 10 seconds longer than anticipated can get people’s back up, don’t you think? Whether you’re waiting in traffic, at the grocery store, waiting to use the bank machine or whatever, take a moment to pause with a deep breath and relax already!

I also wondered about their teamwork dynamic. Would any executive teams venture to the mine to do extreme team building exercises – HA? I thought about teams I’ve worked with in the past and questioned if we would have survived a day together, never mind 68 days. I’ve known some with attitudes peppered with too much “me me me” instead of “we we we” that could jeopardize any hope of survival. Unfortunately too many teams would end up in a crescendo of mutiny instead of one of unity. Give some honest thought about what role you would have played during that time on that team.

I can see the clamouring for the business books being written on teamwork about this Chilean dream team. I’m certain all men “got with the program” early on, pulled together and stood united for the duration. All became part of the solution, NOT part of the problem. For those in despair they did double teaming to lift their spirits whether it was praying, joking, crying, listening or talking it through. Whatever it took, they obviously did it. These men take the cake on perfect execution of very important principles.

I don’t know about you but I don’t do well in extreme heat. It would have been like a 68 day hot flash. Not pretty!! My hair would have frizzed up with the humidity. I’d have to do without most of my usual primping. My roots’d be in a state, not to mention my eyebrows, finger nails, toes. If 33 women I know were stuck down there (and survived) they’d have to send paramedics AND a makeover team before sending the gals up to the surface. What would you be asking them to send through the chute while you were stuck – your favourite green tea and Clairol’s Aubergine Dream??

I suppose what you’d have get used to was being with “Me Myself and I” and dig deep into what you’re all about. What am I made of?? Would I be part of the solution? Give it some thought.

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Here Ye Here Ye – School Food Policy ReTREAT

October 12th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

I read in the newspaper about kids scavenging elsewhere for the food they want during school hours since their schools are devoid of variety. On March 25 I wrote a brief post on “Thoughts of Food in Schools” when I scoffed at the “all or none” approach some schools have taken around removing junk food. This news article’s findings was no surprise to me.

Ok let’s get it straight folks – all foods fit. Repeat this 10 times fast until it sinks in. I think policy makers were cleansing the schools of any hint of unhealthy food to clear their own consciences AND to duck from the media frenzy around this fiery topic. Put your thinking caps on people. Well I say if you’re making a policy that adults can’t live with, then why would we make our kids have to?? We already have an obesity epidemic on our hands, do we want food seeking psychological issues to deal with as well?? Of course not.

The Smarter Lunchroom – Duh Why Didn’t We Think of This Before?

Well good news everybody, eating behaviour guru extraordinaire Dr. Brian Wansink and David Just have emerged from their Bat-cave at Cornell University just in time with some strategic solutions for schools. Eureka!! You know I’m a big fan of Brian’s behavioural wisdom written about on April 5th. Now these wise-guys are applying behavioural pearls in the school environment launching The Smarter Lunchroom with these details being hot off the press today. Check out the link. Double eureka!!

Location Location Location

The goal is to encourage researchers and schools to work together in finding easy no-cost/low cost solutions to make lunchrooms smarter.  For instance, if a school requires cash for cookies (disallowing debit purchases on less healthy food), children buy fewer cookies and more fruit; if a school puts the healthier foods at the front and end of a line, children take more than if they are in the middle.

It’s not an “all or none” approach yet works on basic economics, psychology and food placement. Now this IS an approach I can endorse. Forcing kids OR adults to eat food they’re not interested in creates bigger problems. Supporting kids to make better choices more often makes a ton of sense. Fostering a healthy relationship with food does too.

So bravo to this launch based on solid science and sense. Let’s hope this trend catches on like wildfire in all schools before the current “purist” environment creates any more problems than it has already bestowed. On your mark, get set, GO!!

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Monkey Business – Food Temptations at Work

October 11th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I am continuing the theme of “worksite wellness” from last week using the theme of “Monkey Business”. Is your place of work on temptation avenue, laden with goodies here, donuts there, cookies around the corner? Hey I don’t want to be a party pooper….. but somebody’s gotta help everyone to see the light.

Get Yourself Surrounded with Goodness

Look, it’s all about controlling your environment, right?? If your place of work is booby trapped with junk food galore you and your fellow staff might have morphed into mindless eating machines and not even realize it. Ban together to de-junk. You know me by now right. Yes, all foods fit. Go out and have a treat now and then. But having yourself surrounded by goodies from 9 to 5, day in and day out, is well really baddie for you.

Novel Worksite Food Policy

Call me crazy, but bring in some fruit. I heard about one nifty place of work that has a “free fruit Monday” as a staff benefit. They have bowls of fruit filled up every Monday in the work cafeteria and the staff nosh on that all week long. How super it that?? What a great way to give your staff brain food so they can nourish themselves AND your business.

Order Brain Food NOT Drain Food at Meetings

Another thing to think about is food ordered at meetings. This can be a minefield in itself. Whoever does the ordering has options. Work on a variety of healthier choices from your caterer. Yes I might like the taste of Naomi Bars while I’m brainstorming on a Monday afternoon but that really doesn’t fit into my “master plan” and I don’t see why it should fit into yours.

Lunch and Munch

Do you bring your lunch or buy it? Either way you can make better choices, it’s up to you to decide. Bringing a lunch is a no brainer. But buying one, you’ll need your wits about you. Lead, don’t follow what every other sheep in the herd is having. If your office is near a food court there are many healthy choices you just need to retrain your robot into making better choices.

Calories Count on the Expense Account

Ahh eating on the company’s dime. Yes you might be privileged to be able to expense some of your meals. You cannot; however, charge the calories to the office account. It would be nice would it??!! Alas, laws of biology apply here. So keep your head on straight when ordering with this in mind. You know the saying “there’s no free lunch”. When it comes to calories it’s true, there IS no FREE lunch.

More Ideas??

Do you have any ideas you’d like to share?? Do weigh in on eating healthy at work.
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Awareness is Bliss

October 10th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’ve done a lot of talking about monitoring –  around eating, around weight, around how your clothes fit, etc. But another handy tool to have a reality check with is the blessed mirror. Yes folks, make a date with it. “Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the softest one….” I find as I get older there are some fine details I just don’t want to get up close and personal with. You??

As I age, I avoid the mirror like I’m avoiding looking at someone in the eyes I’m trying to dodge. You know that scenario. However, I make it a point every so often to stop cold in front of the mirror like a Western movie hold-up and do a slow-mo 360 degree turn while letting go of my abs. Exhale baby exhale!! I’d prefer to swing my partner around and ’round then dash out, really I would.

I usually catch myself red-handed being guilty of one charge or another. Like on August 7 when I confessed to slipping up on doing my mat routine. I came to that realization after witnessing my abs in the relaxed position from the side view that very day. Guilty by letting it all hang out!!

At times I’d just like the lights in the lavatory to be set on dim so I don’t trip over the rug. Just light enough to ensure my hair isn’t sticking up on one side or there’s no toothpaste residue on my mouth. My vision isn’t as good as it used to be to the point where I can barely see the fine lines on my face with low lights. Yes a blessing in disguise.

It’s true ignorance is bliss. Avoidance came from the same neighbourhood as ignorance. So did denial. When you combine this trio of doom you’re heading for trouble right down the road. But in my world of health and wellness resistance is futile!! Yes, spoken like a true Borg. It’s funny how our internal robot (written about May 26) can switch in reverse for a bit if you settle into the la la land of ignorance. You know, let those old die-hard behaviours slip back into your repertoire – eating too quickly, not focusing in on hunger and satiety cues, morphing serving sizes and skipping exercise for this reason or that.

Really folks the saying shouldn’t be “ignorance is bliss” it should be “awareness is bliss”. Give me a slap of reality any day to get me out of the fog of complacency. Doing the mambo with the mirror can snap you out of your delusional dilemma faster than you can say….well the next size up.

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Thanks Danke Merci Grazie Obrigado Gracias…

October 7th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

We are heading into our long Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. A time to kick back, relax, connect with family and friends. Enjoy the fall colours and temperatures, not to mention the exquisite dinners, a day off, the ability to sleep in….. What’s not to love. I say it doesn’t need to be Thanksgiving to make giving thanks part of your daily routine. Many of us are surrounded by blessings 24/7.

Funny when you listen to the news you’d think the sky was falling even when there’s a clear blue one hovering overhead. The economy, global warming, natural disasters, taxes and more taxes, the obesity epidemic, biphenol in plastics – it makes you want to crawl under your bed and stay there until it’s over. Look on the bright side, Doc Halladay pitched a no hitter in the baseball playoffs last night. Go Philli!! Even though he’s no longer a Toronto Blue Jay, that’s certainly something to celebrate!!

The info I gleaned so valuable on the topic of “giving thanks” is from the book The Secret. It was suggested to make “alms giving” part of your daily routine. It’s surprising how the act of focusing in on your many blessings instead of petty annoyances can instantly lift your spirits and set your heart and actions on a positive course each day. I wrote about this in my June 8th post.

Are you a “cup half full” or “half empty” kind of person? Kinda sounds like a Victoria Secret ad, doesn’t it??!! Hopefulness and positivity are certainly a state of mind. When you hear the birds chirping do you hear noise or music? When you see children playing do you see mischief or vast potential?  It’s up to you to decide how you perceive your proverbial cup. Do you realize being negative is one of life’s risk factors? Just looking at the bright side in life can potentially add time to your life. Just knowing that is something to be thankful for!!

So put joy in your heart and a smile on your face. Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or not take the time to give thanks because it really doesn’t get any better than this.

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Food Revolution Pasta Fagioli

October 6th, 2010 2 Comments Tags: , , ,

This is one of my easy-peasy favourite fall and winter dish. Why not celebrate fall with an appropriate din-din that’s so hearty!! I love this recipe from every perspective – it’s a perfect 10. Firstly, it tastes heavenly and for me, taste is king. Secondly, I can be hungry enough to eat a horse and it always satisfies well before I’m finished my serving. Next, it’s so flipping nutritious if I could do a cartwheel to celebrate, I would….but I cannot. And finally, it’s so economical. Really, this dish is better than a hat-trick!!

In Italian “they” call it Ricci and Pauvre – Rich and Poor. I say it’s rich in flavour and nutrition and fits everybody’s budget. When I want to go meatless in perfect flexitarian style, this dish makes so much sense (and perfect cents). Give it a try, you’ll just love it too!!


1 can (540mL, 19oz) drained and rinsed white kidney beans

1 can (540mL, 19oz) drained and rinsed chick peas

1 tomato diced

6-8 crushed garlic cloves

1 cup white wine

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Digitali pasta noodles (use an amount to your liking, err on the side of less)

fresh chopped parsley & parmesan cheese to garnish

1 tbsp olive oil

Preparation Instructions

Pour a dab of olive oil at the bottom of a sauce pan and turn the element to medium low heat. Add the crushed garlic and cook to soften. Then add chopped tomato and heat. Add half of each can of white kidney beans and chick peas and mash with potato masher right in the pot. Pour in the stock, and white wine. Then add the rest of the beans and chick peas whole (unmashed). Allow to simmer. About 20 minutes before serving heat this up to boiling at which time you add the amount of pasta noodles to your liking and boil until pasta is al dente. A friend of mind made this recipe and added some boiled, chopped spinach and said it was very divine.

I often serve this with garlic bread on the side, like in the photo. It’s a taste explosion that’s simply heavenly.

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Posted in Food Revolution Recipes, Foodie Fundamentals | 2 Comments »

Spotlight on Vitamin D

October 5th, 2010 No Comments Tags: ,

Perhaps it’s better to say “put the sunlight on Vitamin D” rather than the spot light!! Unless you live under a rock you’ve noticed our daylight hours are on the decline as fall hits its stride. After all getting a bit of sun exposure is perhaps our best source of getting the Vitamin D we need. I don’t know about you but my daily walk has me covered to keep the cooler temps at bay. Even during the full fledged height of summer, sunlight finds us plastering on the sunscreen for safety reasons. So taking the time to feature this very important vitamin is timely and vital.

You’d think it were a new vitamin with all the hype we’ve heard about Vitamin D over the past year. I must say as a registered dietitian I find myself asking “why didn’t I think of that decades ago?” when I read studies highlighting the need for more and the benefits of meeting requirements. As I have said before our body needs all of the vitamins and minerals to function optimally and the need for Vitamin D is no different. We all know about the benefits of Vitamin D’s contribution to bone health, but there is evidence of it’s important role in our organs with some research indicating it’s protective role from some chronic diseases. That really sparked my attention.

Although we get an excellent amount of Vitamin D when consuming salmon or tuna, there’s been so much hype about eating these foods you’d think you’d grow a second head in spite of them. Fortified cow’s milk is another excellent source. Getting adequate intake changes with age. Here’s the scoop:

  • 0-1 year old, adequate intake = 200 IU with an upper limit = 1,000 IU
  • 1-50 years old, adequate intake = 200 IU with an upper limit = 2,000 IU
  • 51-70 years old, adequate intake = 400 IU with an upper limit = 2,000 IU
  • >70 years old, adequate intake = 600 IU with an upper limit = 2,000 IU
  • pregnant/lactating 18-50 years old, adequate intake = 200 IU with an upper limit = 2,000 IU

When I reviewed my diet regimen with the “sample food” listing with Vitamin D in mind I came to one conclusion, the need to supplement. I suggest anyone pondering this quandary to discuss it with your doctor. A simple blood test can be done to test your level, then you can decide what you need to do to meet requirements.

Now just because some is good doesn’t mean more is better. Talk to an expert on this subject, then take any action needed from there. Get in the know on this important vitamin by checking out some of the links on the right panel. Now if you HAVE been living under a rock you REALLY do need to bone up on your Vitamin D vitals. After all an ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure.

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Successful Weight Management – Tips & Tricks for Kids

October 4th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Just making a shout out to one of my trusty T & T followers requesting “diet tips for kids”. Thank you. Ahhh where do I begin. I’ll start with some solid basics and build on this theme over time.

Time is of the essence folks. The sooner you start addressing the issue the better. Put the blame game behind you, roll up your sleeves and start setting some goals to move forward.

If you’re not a lover of setting limits with your kids, I suggest you consider a paradigm shift. Limits are your friend as a parent AND as a child. You are not their friend, you’re their parent. Kids thrive on limits. Also, kids are NOT “little adults” so avoid approaching this with the same strategies. Here’s some food for thought to get you started:

Location Location Location

  • There’s a lot of talk about caring for our environment lately. This also pertains to controlling the environment in your own home.
  • Do an environmental scan around your house with a new lens? Do you have treats sitting out in various rooms in the house? Do a clean up and limit your food availability to your kitchen’s fridge and cupboards only. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
  • What’s good, fast, nutritious and convenient to snack on in your fridge? Choose food that kids enjoy that are also fast and easy. Sit down with them and gain insights into what they’ll have so you get their buy-in.
  • Does the family do all of their eating in one place, like the kitchen? Or when the boob-tube’s turned on is it routine to eat with distractions?? I suggest you make a new rule that there’s only eating at the kitchen table, sitting using utensils and a plate.

Take the Lead and Be A Role Model – Yup I’m Talkin’ To You

  • If your eating and activity regimen leaves much to be desired, why not start there. Kids learn more from their parents than you realize. Actions speak louder than words. If you expect them to change, you will need to take the lead.
  • Avoid skipping meals – a good routine of 3 meals and 1-2 snacks teaches kids to follow suit (especially breakfast).
  • Get into eating a balanced diet and aim to have all of the food groups.
  • Try to get your 5-10 fruits and veggies each day.
  • Get kids involved with activities around food (grocery shopping, some prep as age-appropriate, making lunches, etc.). This will be a life skill they will leave the nest with thanks to you.

Monitoring Mania

  • Have your child checked out by your doctor, preferably a paediatrician.
  • Ensure they take a weight and height and monitor this over time using a growth chart. The great thing about working on this with younger kids is that some can maintain weight and grow into it.
  • Usually though, as new healthy habits are adopted they’ll lose some weight.
  • Avoid having them be weighed at home. This could set up an obsessive compulsive dynamic from a young age that is counter productive to long-term success.

Not a Diet But Your Life’s Eating Plan

  • Avoid any discussion about being on a diet. The last thing any person, especially a kid needs is to get into the “diet mentality” leading to that whole yo-yo dieting thing. Just zip it. It’s how the family eats, it’s NOT a special diet. Period.
  • Get everyone in the family singing from the same song sheet and working on this together.
  • Eating healthy is good for everyone in the household.
  • Stress that all foods fit and choose to have your weekly treat preferably outside of the home.
  • Stocking up on pillow sacks of junk will set your child up for food seeking and overeating and it won’t help your cause. Save your money….

Work in Healthy Behaviours

  • Get outside and play daily.
  • Set limits on screen time – TV, computer games and the like.
  • Aim to eat dinner together as often as possible.
  • Serve the food from the stove and if people want seconds of veggies they can have it.
  • Avoid eating with distractions especially not eating in front of the TV.

Food & Drink Tips & Tricks

  • Avoid calling treats “bad” or “good” because kids’ll gravitate to the….you know what.
  • All calories count so outside of your child’s milk servings choose no-cal drinks.
  • Aim for 3 meals/day (no skipping) especially breakfast and 1-2 snacks per day.

Ok then parents, there you have it – some tips to get you and your family started. Changing life’s behaviours takes time. Working on this is certainly worth the effort in spades. This process isn’t something you “go on” then “go off”. This is a “lifer” approach, something you do day in and day out. Work as a team and you’ll all be getting a gold medal of life for it because you will reap more benefits that just nutrition ones. Trust me. Let me know how it’s going so I can help. You’re not alone on this journey.

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