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Category Archives: Mindful Habits

Are you ready for the action packed month that is December?


For some reason most of us are very busy in this last month of the year. For many work is winding down and projects have to be finished. At the same time we have extra demands placed on us at home. We have extra activities to participate in with our children and we have more projects on the home front. All this decorating, shopping and getting ready for Christmas and the New Year can take its toll. By the end of the month we need a vacation we are so worn out!!!

So what can we do to stay energized?

REST: Hopefully by now we all know how much we can do before we start to get too tired. If we don’t know then it is time that we start to learn. So notice how your body feels when it is tired and when you are tired —REST. Go to bed earlier or schedule in naps but find a way to get the rest that you need.

EXERCISE: Exercise helps you to relax and to be more energized. If you can go out into nature (a nature park) and go for a walk, or go to the mountains to ski or go to the pool and swim. You get the picture. Do some physical activity outdoors. That seems to be more relaxing than exercising in a gym with lots of blasting music on. If you are in a time crunch remember that exercise is beneficial even when we break it up into 10 minute intervals.

TIMELY EATING: The timing of when you eat, and what you choose to eat can both have a big impact on your energy levels. Make sure that you eat at regular intervals. Eat at least 3 meals a day but you could also add snacks. Usually dietitians like you to think about eating every 4-6 hours. So that means that if you at breakfast at 6 am you would like to eat something between 10 am and 12 noon. Listen to your appetite to decide if you want a snack or a meal.

BALANCED MEALS: meals that are high in refined sugars and carbohydrates can give you a quick boost of energy that does not last very long. Think of your fireplace. Burning paper and kindling will give you a big burst of flame and heat but it does not last very long and the embers it leaves do not give much heat. But using the kindling and the paper to light a large, dry log will give you an even source of heat for hours. It is the same with food. Meals that are filled with lots of quickly absorbed carbohydrates (tomato sandwich on white bread or toast and jam for breakfast) will give you a burst of energy that is short lived. Add some protein to the same meal and you will stay full for longer and have more energy for a longer period of time. Have an egg with your toast and make sure you add a nice wedge of cheese to your tomato sandwich to make it balanced.

Make sure to have some fun and enjoy the busy holiday season.

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Size Matters !

Size matters…..plate size AND design to be more precise.

The brain is a pretty smart thing. It thinks, does complex equations, remembers tiny details and can be fooled.

Try a little experiment. No special equipment needed and you don’t have to be a scientist. You will need a lab partner. Send your partner out of the room. He or she cannot see what you do next. Get 2 plates, one with a larger rim and one with a smaller one. Plates without rims work too, as long as they are two different sizes. Into each plate, measure exactly the same amount of food. Now comes the fun part. Ask your trusty sidekick to look carefully at each plate and tell you which plate contains more food. What did you discover? I’ll wait while you check your results.

It is likely that your lab partner thought that there was more food in the plate with the larger rim, even though each plate contained exactly the same amount of food. This over/underestimation may not be huge, but simply knowing about it can help you to avoid portion distortion.

So…….use this optical illusion to your advantage. A larger rimmed plate results in smaller quantities on your plate.

Remember, you eat with your eyes too.

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Holiday Eating

It’s time for a new approach to holiday eating!

MPj044382900001-231x300Every year at this time a succession of health experts tells us what we should be eating in order to maintain our weight and our health during the winter eating extravaganza we call the “Holidays”.  Many of their suggestions start with the words “do not”….do not eat this….do not cook like that….As my brother never tires of telling me we are taking all the fun out of life.

In January my office resembles a confessional more than a place to learn about healthy eating.  Client after client comes in to tell me about how much they over ate, and why they couldn’t refuse Aunt Marge’s pie, even after 2 whopping servings.

Clearly the advice based on restriction is not working.  Instead of restriction most people throw caution to the wind, for about a month or so, and then follow this up with a period of intense dieting.  The end result is usually weight gain.  Some statistics say that the average weight gain during the period of the year that lasts from US Thanksgiving to the New Year is about 2 pounds, which sounds quite harmless.  However if you do not lose that weight the 2 pounds can quickly morph into an excess of 10 or more pounds.   At that rate someone who had a BMI of 20 at the age of 20 will have a BMI of 28 by the time they reach the age of 40.  This is considered to be overweight, with obesity just around the corner.

It’s time for a new approach!  Let’s try one that is based on respect for food, our culinary traditions and the pleasure we receive when we consume a delicious meal while surrounded by friends and family.   If we relax and enjoy we actually eat less.   Giving ourselves the permission to eat our favourite foods and relax and enjoy ourselves is the exact opposite of scoffing all the food we can eat, before we “get back on track” by going on yet another diet.

A mindful approach to eating, whether during the holidays or any other time of year, will allow us to eat the foods that we love and truly enjoy them.  We should take the time to identify which of the many holiday delicacies we are really craving, and then savour the smell, the taste, the texture, in fact the whole experience.  Why waste time and energy on foods that you do not really enjoy.  When faced with an abundance of choices, just ask what do I want to eat?  Taking the time to chew the food, and enjoy the taste of it actually leads to eating less calories, and feeling less stressed, which also leads to less over eating.  If we concentrate on enjoying the conversation with Aunt Marge she probably won’t even notice what or how much you are eating.

The basis of a healthy diet is balance, variety and moderation.  Eating mindfully also means making appropriate food choices that respond to the needs of our bodies.  It will allow us to make our traditional holiday meal, while inserting a few modern traditions.

This holiday season, try a new approach.  Think about what you need, what you want and what is available to you.  Savour the whole experience of your holiday table, and see how indulged you feel, without overeating.

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