Archive for September, 2015

Who can you trust in this mad mad mad world of misinformation?

September 30th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , ,

I have written in my book that it can be a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World when it comes to the smelly heap of food and nutrition misinformation these days. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to believe. Sadly, many innocent consumers don’t only waste their hard earned money on crack-pot, unnecessary products but also harm themselves physically by trying some of these schemes.

I recently recounted a story I heard in my blog post “Clean Up on Aisle 3“. I heard about a woman who tried a cleanse, limiting her to only drink a high-priced, special elixir to help her find her fountain of youth. After a month on this bevy blaster her hair started falling out. That wasn’t exactly the special side effect she was seeking, good grief. That’s what happens when you don’t deliver all the nutrients your body needs consistently – it eventually breaks down.

Unfortunately the wisdom of eating a balanced diet and regular food can seem so unsexy and highly underrated when indeed this nugget is truly the Holy Grail… The moral of that story – don’t mess with the machine – your bodacious body, as I have written many times and explain in my ebook, Skinny on Slim the Little Black Dress of Diet Books.

Dietitians of Canada has some pointers to help Canadians sort through the noise to find the best available nutrition information.

Here are five tips to spot misinformation:

  • Is the person or product promising a quick fix like fast weight-loss or a miracle cure? If it sounds too good to be true, then it likely is! Making changes to your health means a commitment to eating well and exercising regularly. Check out the ‘Your Health’ section at dietitians.ca
  • Are they trying to sell you products such as special foods or supplements instead of teaching you how to make better food choices at home, at play, at work or while eating out?
  • Do they provide information based on personal stories rather than on facts? Although it’s nice to hear about a success story from a celebrity, it’s not proof that something works or is true. Nutrition advice should be based on the best available scientific research. Dietitians are university trained, regulated health professionals who use tools such as PEN® to make sure they are basing their advice on the best available information.
  • Is their claim based on a single study or a few research studies? Were the studies with animals or humans? Are you similar to the humans that were studied (age, gender etc.)? The stronger the study design, and the more studies available that draw the same conclusions, the stronger the evidence that something it true.
  • What are the person’s qualifications? Think about it: You wouldn’t ask a celebrity how to build a safe bridge, you’d ask a professional engineer. You also wouldn’t ask a celebrity to fill your cavity, you’d ask a dentist. The same thinking should apply for nutrition advice. Dig a little deeper and ask for credentials. The title dietitian is protected by law, just like a nurse, dentist or pharmacist. Look for the initials “RD or PDt” to identify a registered dietitian.

Awash yourself with wisdom people. Trust an RD!

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Fall Forward 6 Ways

September 23rd, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

We all know the saying “Spring Forward, Fall Back”. I am a contrarian on that. Once fall hits, I get that motivational New Year’s feeling, don’t you? I yearn to dial it up a notch to move forward with fresh thinking, goals and plans as the new season arrives. Care to join me?

Last week I blogged about part of a conversation I had with a book reader of mine. Paige and I conversed a few times and she mentioned something about what she experienced so far in her quest to get healthier that I wanted to share with you.

During the goal making process, as my readers take the step to make changes in their diet, attitude and life I suggest they not even consider “food related” goals at first and focus on behaviour instead. Take the pressure off! I based this recommendation on my own experience. When I embarked on my very last journey from Fat City to Slim Town that shift in thinking helped tremendously. For me, it was so freeing to allow all food to fit and focus on improving aspects of my eating behaviour. In time I lost the guilt, the food and eating preoccupations along with weight. Those changes alone are worth working on and will help you find some peace from all of those struggles.

Until I did that I never quite realized how much energy I wasted on obsessing over food and eating. To say it was exorbitant is an understatement. So in my exchange with Paige, she exclaimed, “What a revelation!” about how not making food-related goals was for her. Does this strike a cord in you?

So with fall upon us, plan to fall forward, not backward into hibernation mode, into couch potato-dom, into draw-stringed waistbands and slump wear. Make plans to fall forward to progress your lifestyle goals to help you dial it up a notch. Start by shifting your focus. Take the pressure off and make goals that aren’t food or weight related. How novel is that? Very! Here are 6 ways to fall forward:

One – Here’s a fresh idea: Kick food-guilt to the curb once and for all and find practical tips galore in my book to get er done! Create a love affair with food and eating by allowing all food to fit.

Two - Keep the lovin’ alive by creating another love affair with activity and exercise by making moves you enjoy. Your routine shouldn’t be your punishment. Have fun already!

Three – Identify the food and eating knots that bind you by keeping a journal. Practice the 3 R’s – review, reflect, reframe each week to eventually free yourself from these negative, energy sucking relationships forever.

Four – Get real this fall and take your lifestyle by the horns by making systematic small goals doing the 3 x 3 and rewarding yourself throughout. Try a new approach.

Five – Work on staying stoked with myriad motivations to keep you in the game from when you start throughout the process, whatever your goals might be.

Six – Get reading Skinny on Slim the Little Black Dress of Diet Books to help you find perspective, provide a slew of tips and be your support with you’re own RD and friend in your back pocket.

Unshackle yourself from mainstream “diet” thinking and focus your energy on living better! Experience your own revelation! Isn’t that what you really want – peace, not war? Let the changing leaves be a sign that it’s time to make positive shifts today. Join me in a fresh journey and fall forward!

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To Snack or Not to Snack? Managing your Hunger Games

September 18th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I recently received this message from a book reader of mine. She gave me permission to blog about it to help others who might have similar issues managing hunger.

Dear T & T,
I just finished your book, Skinny on Slim, The Little Black Dress of Diet Books and thought it had a lot of great tips. I have started journalling and have set some 3×3 goals for myself. I have a question about how to strike a balance between only eating when I’m hungry and eating to ensure I won’t be too hungry at a later time (to ensure no pig outs happen when serious hunger hits). For example, I tend to workout after work but before dinner. So I will have a snack around 4pm to give me plenty of energy for a solid workout and I’m not dying for dinner right after. But sometimes I am not really hungry when it’s snack time. One of my goals, is to focus on what actual hunger is, and I worry that snacking like this may impede that. Any thoughts?

Dear PO,

You bring up an excellent point about managing hunger with a busy routine. First of all major props to you for working out, keep up the good work on that! Being active is beneficial for you on sooooo many levels. Learning about your own hunger and fullness cues takes time and is a huge balancing act AND certainly worth the effort to work on.

If you’re not hungry at 4pm I suggest you forgo having a snack. It is, however, totally trial and error. Keep yourself equipped with fruit for afterward – a perfect post-workout and pre-dinner snack so you’re not ravenous when you get home. I think marketing ingrains in our heads that we need a pre and/or post workout snack even though we’re not elite athletes. Follow your cues and act accordingly.

Also I find different times of the month like when I’m PMS’ing I feel more hungry. If that’s the case I’ll have a snack. Fruit is my go-to option or a handful of unsalted nuts if I need more staying power. Boredom can do the same thing with playing funny mind tricks disguised as hunger when it isn’t! Reviewing the 3 R’s (review, reflect, reframe) from your journal and observing the patterns will help you figure out true hunger. Plus it will help you with to how better you manage hunger. I find when I’m ravenous it’s too easy to automatically overeat so my personal trick is to avoid getting to that point. Easier said than done, but an ongoing goal. It’s a true balancing act and takes time to figure out and manage.

It’s a worthwhile effort to discern what actual hunger is for you as well. There are times when my tummy plays gypsy music disguised as hunger, esp post vacation and what I actually need to do is to get back on track, ensure I drink my fluids (water at my workstation), eat more fruits and veggies, choose a balanced diet including enough protein at each meal while I retrain those stomach stretch receptors to snap back to normal. As I like to say: Awareness is bliss! Keep me posted on your progress and let me know if you have further questions.

Nutritionally yours,
T & T

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Pasta Salad with a Kick!

September 9th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , ,

I was in a “Tasmanian Devil” mode making a pasta salad for a backyard work bar-be-cue that was a hit. I ad libbed with ingredients I had on hand, so like any good Italian in the kitchen I didn’t measure things out, but added to my serving bowl until it seemed just right. It was so delicious I enjoyed it for dinner, while hubby had it for lunch. Glad there was enough left for the company!

Ingredients
500 gm pasta noodles (try tri-coloured bowties or rotini)
bunch asparagus spears
prepped mini carrots
1 540mL/28oz can chick peas (rinsed)
marinated hot bell peppers (chopped, add to your liking)
200mL/12oz marinated artichokes
200mL/12oz marinated black olives (pitted and sliced)
chopped sun-dried tomatoes
feta cheese (crumbled)
asiago cheese (shredded coarsely)
bunch green onion (chopped)
diced spanish onion
3 crushed garlic cloves
sea salt (to taste)
ground black pepper (to taste)
hot chilli pepper (to taste, optional)
olive oil (add sparingly, to your liking)
balsamic vinegar (add sparingly, to your liking)
lime juice (add sparingly, to your liking)

Instructions
1) Bring water to a boil and add in dry pasta and cook according to the package instructions. When cooked to your liking strain, rinse with cold water and add to your bowl.
2) Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash and prepare asparagus and carrots. Place evenly on the pan. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper. Roast in the oven for ~20 minutes or until tender. When cooked remove from oven, cool then cut in pieces and add to your bowl.
3) Meanwhile in a large bowl add all ingredients except seasonings, oil, vinegar and lime juice which you’ll add once all of the ingredients are in the bowl. Stir to combine ingredients evenly and season to your liking.
4) Cover and refrigerate. Make this a day in advance for the flavours coalesce. Enjoy!

Commentary
This is a perfect pasta salad which can be served with a meal or enjoyed AS a meal. It’s a complete meal, perfect to tote for work or school lunches and tastes even more delectable a day or two after you made it. It’s easy to make half your plate veggies with this recipe!

You can certainly add more or different ingredients to your bowl depending what you have on-hand. I’d add green peas the next time and roast a few red peppers for an even richer flavour. Use any type of cheese you have available. You can add or sub in hard boiled eggs or drained flaked tuna/ salmon or chopped up cooked leftover chicken or beef.

Let your imagination run wild and make it any way you wish as you can do no wrong with this in your repertoire and it doesn’t take a lot time to prepare.

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Back to School; Want to Make Food Fun?

September 1st, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Everything is so “back to school” these days. I have seen my share of ads, articles, tweets and blog posts about making food fun from sandwiches to breakfasts to snacks. Call me crazy, but are we that hedonistic that every dang thing we do needs to be fun, what gives?!

When it comes to food for kids (young and less young), here’s how to infuse fun inherently, listen up!

Grow It - I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel a sense of pride from eating something they’ve grown at home whether it’s tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon or herbs. Grow something; grow anything and you’ll create joy. Continue the growing season by bringing some herbs indoors as fall approaches.

Plan It – Round everyone up at home to decide what meals and snacks will be made and purchased each week. Use a team approach allowing everyone to have a say, while Mom and Dad lay the ground rules. Team-work makes everything more fun!

Prep It – Encourage everyone in the household to take part in preparing meals and snacks when age appropriate – whether it’s adding to the grocery list, grocery shopping, setting the table, measuring ingredients, chopping, cooking and cleaning up. Get kids to prepare their own lunch. Also, set a goal that your kids build a repertoire of making 6-12 family recipes to take with them when they fly from the nest. Here are some fast, easy recipes I love: Peppers & Eggs, Pasta Fagioli, Nan’s Veal Stew, Sugo! Crazy for Bolognese! Pasta Salad, Tomato Salad and Lettuce Salad – enjoy!

Share It – Breaking bread is a truly beautiful thing. Just like you book meetings at work, make meeting time at home over meals a priority that can’t be missed.

Savour It - As we live our lives in the fast lane aim to dial down the speed when you eat. Stop, find a quite place without distractions, slow down and eat your food savouring the taste to the MAX. If everyone did this, we wouldn’t need to seek out other stimuli to turn our crank. Savour the flavour people!

Enjoy It – With all of the “how to” info around food and eating, it seems something so very natural “the act of eating” has become so pre-scripted and unnecessarily complicated – eat this, don’t eat that – Ahhhh! Let’s lose the guilt around food and eating and enjoy food to the MAX!

So folks, when you infuse all of this into your eating repertoire you can forgo purchasing fluorescent coloured food or creating fruit-origami on your 3-year old’s plate to create fun when you don’t really need it.

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