Macronutrients

How To Stuff The Turkey Without Stuffing Yourself

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! It has all the great food and visiting that Christmas has, but with less fuss and no presents (aka less stress). Before the weekend is upon us I want to help you strategize your Thanksgiving nutrition. I’m not going to tell you NOT to eat something, we all need a piece of pie. I just want to give you some tips that will keep you feeling well all weekend long! They are as follows:

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  1. Hog the vegetables. I mean it. March up to the Thanksgiving dinner buffet and fill at least half your plate with a variety of vegetables! Your family doesn’t cook anything but steamed carrots? Start a new tradition and bring a big salad, steamed broccoli or a delicious butternut squash.
  2. Have a healthy serving of Turkey. We don’t get turkey very often, which I find weird because it really is one of the most delicious birds. For some reason we are convinced they can only be eaten on holidays, but I digress. Turkey is a great source of protein, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin B6 and niacin. Load up!
  3. Keep the grains to 1/2 a cup or less. Half a bun or half a cup of stuffing is plenty! Cutting back on the bread will save you room for dessert and prevent you from feeling “stuffed”
  4. Still have room on your plate? Choose something colorful! There are so many delicious dishes you can make with a variety of in season produce. I’ve linked to a few recipes below:
    1. Bacon wrapped squash,
    2. lentil and sweet potato casserole,
    3. zucchini pizza
  5. Eat mindfully. Take your time. Enjoy the food.

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Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy family and friends. That can be hard to do if your feeling overstuffed the whole time. If your looking for a delicious and nutritious pumpkin pie recipe, you can find my recipe here.

Eat your veggies and your pie!

Charity

Eatreal4life Free Food Guide

Last week I talked about the Canadian Food Guide. This week I’m sharing my own food guide! I’ve created an infographic to help simplify. Feel free to share with a friend!
I want to address one of the main differences between my food guide and the government’s. The government still recommends a high carb/low fat diet, but you will notice I recommend a more balanced approach with more fat, more vegetables, and less carbohydrates. I wouldn’t say it’s a low carb diet, it’s just lower than the Canadian food guide recommends. Recently, there is a lot of talk about inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s response to stress. Acute inflammation is good. If you break your leg and notice it’s red and swollen, this is a sign the immune system is doing its job. Chronic inflammation is when the body is dealing with inflammation all the time. If your broken leg was still just as swollen and red three weeks later, you would be concerned. While most of us don’t have swollen red limbs, our body does give us clear signs of inflammation. Some of them I’ve listed below:

Achy Joints
Headaches
Stomach Pains
Acne
Weight Gain
Low Energy
Slow Recovery
Frequent Colds/Flus
Water Retention
The list goes on and on…….

Recently, a meta-analysis completed by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found this:

“Coronary artery disease pathogenesis and treatment urgently requires a paradigm shift. Despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong. A landmark systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies showed no association between saturated fat consumption and (1) all-cause mortality, (2) coronary heart disease (CHD), (3) CHD mortality, (4) ischaemic stroke or (5) type 2 diabetes in healthy adults.1 Similarly in the secondary prevention of CHD there is no benefit from reduced fat, including saturated fat, on myocardial infarction, cardiovascular or all-cause mortality.”

The belief that a high fat diet can clog your arteries has been challenged and disproven over and over, and yet many people are still avoiding fat and choosing to eat a high carbohydrate diet. Considering the longer we have followed the high carb/low fat diet, the sicker we have become, you would think that by now the food guide would have made some adjustments. Hopefully the new one does! The article went on to say:

“In comparison with advice to follow a ‘low fat’ diet (37% fat), an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet (41% fat) supplemented with at least four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or a handful of nuts (PREDIMED) achieved a significant 30% (number needed to treat (NNT)=61) reduction in cardiovascular events in over 7500 high-risk patients.”

You can read more about it here

A high fat diet has shown to decrease heart related events, not increase them! We need fat to fight inflammation! I chose averages for the servings. Each person is unique so there is no one diet that will fit all. Obviously the lower end is for smaller people and the higher for larger. If I can recommend one thing you should take from this, it is to eat whole food and little sugar. I don’t recommend avoiding saturated fat, which means you will get a fair amount of fat in your meat. I’m not saying you should drink the stuff, but I’m not recommending you avoid meat because of it. The food guide I have designed is about balance, but it is also about decreasing inflammation and giving the body the micro and macronutrients it needs. I am not funded by any organization and gain nothing by making these recommendations. As always, if you have a pre-existing condition/take any medications you should contact your health professional before making any changes!

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Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

Pumkin Gnocchi

This is the easiest recipe EVER! I was so excited that it turned out. I had received a pumpkin in my veggie box and didn’t want it to rot. I have made gnocci with sweet potato before and figured this couldn’t be much different. I decided to do marinara and meatballs to go with it, I would also recommend a brown butter sauce.

What you will need:

1 small-medium size pumpkin (3/4 cup of puree makes two servings)

3/4 cup of flour (I used brown rice flour)

1 egg

 

Step 1

Set the oven to 400 degrees. Cut your pumpkin in half and scoop out the interior. I recommend keeping the seeds and giving them a good roast, they are delicious! Cover the interior with 1tsp of oil and place face down on a baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 min or until the interior is soft.

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Step 2

Scoop out the cooked pumpkin leaving behind the pumpkin shell. You can puree the interior if you like, but I just mashed it with a fork.

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Step 3

Add in the flour and the egg and mix until you have a smooth dough. I added a little extra flour as I went, the dough is very sticky.

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Step 4

Create a ball of dough in your hands and roll out on a floured surface. Use your hands, not a rolling pin. Then cut into bite size cubes.

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Step 5

Press lightly with a fork to get your typical gnocchi look! Bring a pot of water to a boil and place gnocchi in the pot. It only takes a few minutes to reach the desired texture. I boiled the gnocchi for 5 minutes.

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Step 6

Add desired sauce and protein! I also added fresh basil, it paired nicely with the pumpkin flavor! ENJOY!

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A Review Of The Current Canadian Food Guide

Did you hear? The Canadian Food Guide is being rewritten! Before it gets released I want to take a look at the current guide and what I hope we see in the new version.

Food-Guide

For the sake of flow I’m going to refer to the Male 19-50 category. The guide recommends the following:

8-10 servings of fruit and vegetables

8 servings of grain

2 servings of milk/alternatives

3 servings of meat/meat alternatives

Starting with Fruit and vegetables.

Pro’s: 8-10 servings is an excellent recommendation. I would recommend they separate the fruits and vegetables making it 8 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit. Reason being, if people don’t know much about nutrition they will likely choose fruit over vegetables when given the option. Try feeding a baby peas and then switching to bananas. Which one are they going to choose if they have the option? Most babies will choose the bananas. We like sweetness, most of us prefer it to any other taste.

Con’s:You will notice that a glass of 100% fruit juice is considered a serving of fruit, I think this is a problem because it gives the impression that drinking a glass of orange juice is just as beneficial as eating an orange. Eating the entire orange ensures that you get fiber along with the fructose. Fiber helps slow down the release of sugar into the blood stream. I have nothing against freshly squeezed juice but I do think it is meant to be had in moderation. If someone wants to have 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed juice at breakfast, that’s great. If they start replacing multiple servings with juice, I’m going to be concerned. Another problem is that many people believe Tropicana and Simply Orange are equal to freshly squeezed juice. They are NOT. In the past few years the public has been made a aware of the sneaky tactics these companies use to keep their “100% real juice” status. Whenever possible, make your own juice or buy it from a local organic juicery.

Let’s move on to grains. The recommendation for the male is 8 servings of grain. A serving is one slice of bread, 1/2 a cup of other grains or 3/4 cup of cereal.

Pro’s:First, to the side you will see they recommend that at least half these grains be whole grain and that you read the nutrition labels before you buy. I can see the effort here and I applaud it. When choosing a grain whole grain ,much like choosing the orange over the juice, contains more nutrients, more fiber and less sugar. White bread has been bleached and processed to the point where it cannot be considered a health food. It’s a sham. I think the guide should contain more information on why they make certain recommendations. If you dig around you can find more, but making it all part of the same info-graphic would make it user friendly.

Con’s: Back to the servings, 8 servings of grain a day. That’s 8 pieces of bread. I realize they aren’t recommending people eat 8 pieces of bread, but they aren’t NOT recommending it. If you think about it, toast at breakfast, a sandwich at lunch and pizza for dinner would get you pretty close to 8 servings and you can’t tell me that isn’t a common menu. Grains do contain many good nutrients, but 8 servings a day is excessive. I would recommend 3-4 servings of grain with the rest of the carbohydrates coming from a sweet potato, squash and other vegetables. I would also recommend those grains be as natural as possible! For people ,like myself, who struggle with autoimmune diseases it is often best to limit grains to 0-1 servings a day and fill up on nutrient dense vegetables and healthy fats.

Milk and milk alternatives. We’ve all been on the ride from milk is good to milk is bad to milk is good. Everywhere you look there’s a different opinion on whether or not you should drink milk. The main reason milk is recommended is that it contains calcium which is a mineral that contributes to bone health, among other things. There are several leafy greens that have higher concentrations of calcium than dairy products. Factor in that the milk we drink today is pasteurized and has an acidic affect on the body and there isn’t a great argument for consuming it. About 65% of the population has a reduced ability to digest lactose, meaning more than half of us shouldn’t be consuming it at all. I would like to see dairy as a nonessential food group. It can be included as something to partake in if you do not have a lactose intolerance.

Meat and Alternatives.

Pro’s: I like meat. It provides us with essential amino acids that are used as the building blocks of our muscles. Only a few meat alternatives give us all the essential amino acids our body needs. I agree with the 2-3 servings as suggested but when looking closely at the info-graphic I see a few red flags.

Con’s:They have peanut butter as a meat alternative, while peanut butter does contain protein it also contains double the fat. I am 100% pro fat but would prefer to see the peanut butter in its proper category. Legumes are also listed as a meat alternative. 1 cup of legumes contains about 8g of protein and 21g of carbs. You would have to eat a lot to get enough protein and you’d be eating more carbohydrates than necessary. Legumes have many health benefits, but they should be listed as a source of carbohydrates before a source of protein.

What about fat?

To be fair, the rainbow version of the template used to contain a small red line that represented fat. Now there is a box recommending 2-3 TBSP of unsaturated fat be consumed every day. This is great advice, we all need unsaturated fat for our bodies to function at their best. What I don’t like is they are still scaring people away from saturated fat when in moderation it can be used by the body. Along with that they are recommending margarine over butter. On average margarine contains 14 ingredients,some of them man made, while butter contains 2 ingredients (cream and salt). It doesn’t take a genius to recognize something isn’t right about that recommendation. I would recommend Fat be included as a food group.

Where’s the sugar!?

My biggest issue with the Canadian Food Guide is the lack of information on sugar. Somewhere in there it said to limit it, but it does not address what “limit” means. Considering that the average Canadian eats about 80 pounds of sugar a year I would think it would be something they would want to address. We have an obesity, diabetes and heart disease epidemic on our hands but our food guide doesn’t address the role sugar plays in it. It should be stated clearly that sugar should be eaten as little as possible. I would set the limit at 20-30g a day of added sugar. Many people get that in their morning beverage run alone. Sugar is not an essential nutrient in the human body and literally contributes nothing to your health. There should also be information on the role sugar plays in causing inflammation in the body.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, I did not get into the politics that went on during the design phase of the food guide. We live in a corrupt society that is rooted in money. How do you think Coca-cola would react if the food guide started recommending a daily sugar intake that is less than a can of coke? How would Wonder Bread react if we only recommended 2-3 servings of grain a day? How would the entire dairy industry react if we didn’t include dairy as an essential food group? Whenever possible, follow the money. My next post will be a more concise piece on what we should eat and why.

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

 

Why I Stopped Counting Macros

This is a topic I’ve been sitting on for a while. Counting macros is a very popular eating lifestyle, and I have many friends who do it. Last year I decided to try it and since then have changed my food philosophy.

What is counting macros/IIFYM?

IIFYM stands for if it fits your macros. If you look up the hashtag, you will find all sorts of people who have had weightloss success. It has been made even more popular by companies such as Working Against Gravity, and Renaissance Periodization. Counting macros means you are tracking your intake of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. There are many online calculators and templates that help you calculate how many grams of each macronutrient you need for your body type and goals.

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Why do people count macros?

Macro counting is most often used for weightloss. Knowing exactly what you’re eating makes it a lot easier to see where you may be going wrong. Everything is weighed on a food scale to be as accurate as possible. When I tried it I paid for a downloadable template and then entered my information, and it spit out the numbers. Most people who count macros will have less on rest days, and their numbers may vary based on the intensity of their workouts.

Why I stopped

I enjoyed the first few weeks of macro counting. I love experimenting so I was interested in seeing what it would do for me. I did notice that I leaned out a tiny bit over the 6 weeks, but nothing that wouldn’t happen with other minor changes. The first reason I stopped macro counting is that I would justify poor food choices because they fit my macros. I often found it easiest to have foods that weren’t good for me because it helped me reach my numbers. If I wanted to reach my carbohydrate goal I needed to add in much denser carbs than I was used to eating, and this did not go well for my belly. Most of my carbohydrates come from veggies and I feel much better this way. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against carbohydrates. Personally, I do not digest grains, which limits my carbohydrate choices. Second, if I had chosen to follow the plan I was given, I would go through a series of cuts to reach my goal weight. I did not have a goal weight, I just wanted to feel better. If I had followed it, I would have ended up as low as 1700 calories a day compared to my regular 2300-2500. At the end of the day, it wasn’t any different than just restricting calories. If you know me, you know that I believe there are healthier approaches than obsessing over calories.

Who does IIFYM work for?

Athletes: When your full time job is about performance, it makes sense to have your diet down to a science. Athletes also tend to be pickier about what they put in their bodies, and would care just as much about quality as quantity. They would also have a personal dietitian/nutritionist to help guide them through the process.

Performance Driven Individuals: In a world focused on weight, it can be difficult to focus on performance. If you are someone who is solely focused on performance, IIFYM may work for you. If you can have a healthy balance between quality and quantity, IIFYM can help keep you energized. It forces you to eat when you might otherwise skip a meal, this can go a long way towards reaching your goals.

What do I believe?

Macronutrients are important but micronutrients are equally as important. If you are not getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs, you will not function at your best. What you eat matters just as much as how much you eat. With my clients, and myself, my goal is to teach them intuitive eating. This takes time because many people do not recognize when they are hungry or when they are full. Teaching people to build well balanced meals with lots of nutrient dense food is my mission. I want to teach people to listen to their bodies rather than having to count every single calorie they consume. Food is fuel, we HAVE to give our bodies what they need!

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

Back To School Health Reset: Part 2

If you missed part 1, you can read it here.

Prepare Your Snacks Ahead Of Time

This is a huge one! Prepping your snacks for easy access will go a long way after a busy day of work/school. If you’re like me, you reach the point of no return with your hunger and before you know it you have eaten half a bag of potato chips and some mini chocolate chips. Choose one day a week where you take one hour to pre-pack/stock all your snacks. Here are a few suggestions:

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  1. Veggie bags! This is something I recommend to all of my clients. Chop and pack one cup of veggies in a Ziploc bag/container. Make enough bags to last you through the week. Add some hummus on the side!
  2. Make your own trail mix. The great thing about making your own trail mix is you can leave out the raisins. Unless, of course, you like raisins. If your kids are used to having chocolate in their trail mix add 1-2 TBSP per 1/2 cup of trail mix. Just like the veggie bags, you can pre-package them.
  3. Energy balls. If you haven’t heard of these, you’ve been living under a rock. These delicious bite size snacks can be made a variety of ways to suit your taste. click here for a recipe.
  4. Homemade Fruit Ice-cream. I just had this at a friends house and it was delicious! Blend up your favorite smoothie ingredients and place in the freezer. Be sure to add banana and some kind of base, such as coconut yogurt. click here for a recipe.

Enjoy your delicious and nutritious snacks!

Eat Your Veggies!

Charity

Nutrition: Quantity vs. Quality?

What came first? The chicken or the egg? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. Eggs and chicken are both yummy, and that’s good enough for me. You get my point. The quality vs. quantity rose to fame in the last few years. Up until recently, the focus has been on quantity: how many calories did you eat vs. how many you burned. When fitness gurus started preaching quality over quantity, things swung the other way. People assumed that if it was good quality, they could eat as much as they wanted. The paleo diet took the world by storm, and many people consumed insane amounts of fat and protein far exceeding any recommended daily calorie intake. Then the paleo treats came along, and people ate paleo muffins, cookies, and cakes like there was no tomorrow. Not long after macros became a popular topic, people were allotted a certain amount of protein, carbohydrate, and fat every day. The focus was getting the proper amount without much attention to quality. There are a couple dozen more popular diets that were in-between. This has lead to a lot of confusion for the every day person trying to figure out what really matters. Let me help clear things up.

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Quantity

Knowing how much you eat can be very useful information. Our bodies have a certain amount of calories they need every day just to keep us alive. There are specific tools and calculators that can give you a ball park number of what your BMR (basil metabolic rate) is. Mine usually comes out to about 1500. This is not counting exercise or any other activity included in the day. This is just what my body needs to survive in its current state. It is important that I get enough food.

In the world of dieting, many people are undereating, and in the long term, this can cause metabolic damage. The body thinks you’re starving, and slows the metabolism down to conserve energy. On the other hand, many people over-eat. This is not news to us, but many of us don’t know we are the ones over-eating! We think we deserve more food than we actually do. A study done on food diaries found that people underestimate how much they eat by 200-300 calories! This is where macros can be useful. Having people weigh their food can be an eye opening experience, but is not usually sustainable long term.

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Quality

Our bodies are very complicated. Thousands of different chemical processes happen in our body every day. Nutrients are sent throughout the body, providing each organ with what it needs to function at its best. If you don’t give your body what it needs, you are placing it under stress. Eventually this will cause inflammation. Inflammation leads to breakdown of the tissue and chronic disease. We know that certain foods cause inflammation, with sugar being near the top. We also know that food sensitivities cause inflammation, which means that some foods that bother me may not bother you. Before anything else, give your body what it needs. Have a nutrition analysis done of what your currently eating and make sure you are getting the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) your body needs. Let’s say I’m on a 2000 calories a day diet. It may take 1800 calories of veggies, meat and fruit to get me the nutrients I need. This means I have 200 calories left to do with what I want. When I am considering a treat I ask myself “have I given my body what it needs?” I then consider whether that treat is noticeably going to have a negative impact on me. For me, dairy is most often not worth it. It makes me bloated and lethargic. Some potato chips don’t visibly bother me, so I’m more likely to have some of those in order to skip the side effects of the dairy.

Final Thoughts

Most of this is actually very simple if you think about it. We have made food so complicated that most of us don’t even know where to begin. If we look at our body as a machine that we need to run properly for 80-100 years, it may change how we look at food. In a few weeks I will be taking on my first nutrition clients. There will be a limited number of spots open per month for new people to sign up. I want to ensure that each client gets the attention and accountability they need. Followers of this blog will be the first to be offered a chance to sign up. If you enter your email in the box on the right, you will receive an email from me inviting you to enroll before I release it to the public. I hope to help you on your health journey soon!

Eat your veggies!

Charity

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