Back to school snack and lunch ideas

Back to school snack and lunch ideas

Is your anxiety building for back to school… because of lunches?

Real talk: For parents of young children, packing something reasonably nutritious, 5 days a week and that will be eaten is a huge challenge.

This post discusses the challenge that is lunch, and offers tips, snack and lunch ideas that have worked for me or other moms over the years. (Yes, dads pack lunches too, but they did not contribute their ideas).

Warning: This is a big-ass post for a big-ass problem.

Back to school broo-haha

We want packing lunches to be simple and easy, don’t we?

I’d like to make an argument for teaching your child to eat what’s available for lunch.

Convey to them that good quality, fresh food is a blessing. And I feel that our kids would benefit if more parents would apply ‘you get what you get, and you don’t get upset’ to lunchtime.

But the parental struggle is real.

First problem?

They are kids. Kids can be fickle. They love cherry tomatoes, they hate cherry tomatoes. Or fig bars, or whatever. They can be picky, especially if they have sensory issues. If they are like my son, they eat slooooowly.

Other issues:

The social aspect. Even if we have good eaters at home, at school, kids love to talk, to socialize. They would rather go play, or they are too shy to eat, or they compare their homemade food to their neighbour’s shiny sugar-laden cartoon-character-packaged items.

They’re at school. Our kids get only so much time, there is no food reheating available in most schools, and they are on their own with the containers, which we hope made it there in one piece and right side up.

No one watches them eat, because teachers, those wonderful humans who teach our kids, get a well-deserved break from them too. And of course, school staff need a break, because power struggles with kids are draining.

Parents. We as parents contribute to the power struggle around food, because we forget the proper division of responsibility.

More on that division of responsibility: You see, we are control freaks (I will raise my hand if you will), and that creates pushback. We want to control both what our kids eat, and how much they eat. But as the wise dietician and feeding dynamics authority Ellyn Satter always insisted, “Parents provide. Kids decide.” We choose what to offer, they decide what/how much to eat.

In other words, healthy lunches that can be consumed by a hurried, distracted little one are a tall order, but, if we want them to eat, and eat what we feel is right for them, we need to choose our battles. If we accept that some weeks cherry tomatoes get eaten, and some weeks they don’t, and we don’t start begging them to tell us what to pack, we respect the proper division of responsibility.

What to focus on

The main challenges as I see them are supplying food that travels well and eats easily, without resorting to processed foods (ugh, the plastic! The wrappers!) or too much sugar, as these items leave our kids with failing grades in nutrition and planetary stewardship.

Speaking of which, the containers and lunchboxes that are most easily accessible are neither health-supportive (aka they are toxic) nor sustainable.

They fail the environment, and our kids, who will inherit the earth. Also, they teach our kids that environmental considerations can wait, when they cannot. I beleive in leaving goods kids to the planet as much as a good planet for the kids.

Therefore, I will also list some better brands for lunch and water containers further down and link to them.

Let’s help each other:

If you’ve ever been stuck in a rut, can you commit to at least one more real-food sugar-free lunch each week?

Please comment below with a suggestion for a simple, balanced, minimally processed kids’ lunch.

Tips and strategies:

Keep lots of finger foods and sides in the house. This can help ensure something always gets eaten. Veggie spears, ready to eat proteins like tofu, cans of salmon, (peanut-free) trail mix, pumpkin seeds, and homemade gummies, homemade granola bars, mini muffins, prepped pumpkin French toast with pureed berries or applesauce, popcorn, cheese in cubes, goji berries, and a variety of fruit. Speaking of which…

Buy the small fruit. Small fruit is considered less desirable, and so is less expensive, but your littles will love small oranges, pears, apples, nectarines and bananas along with their berries and grapes.

Prep like a Kitchen Manager. On Sunday or the beginning of the week, clean and slice an assortment of crudité veggies like peppers and carrots, cucumber and celery. Cut up large fruit like pineapple and watermelon, boil a bunch of eggs. Mark the shells so you know which are cooked. Grab and go as you make the weeks lunches. Not into eggs? Cook and slice chicken breast early in the week to add to lunches all week. Make egg or chicken salad on the weekend with anything unused.

Dreading kindergarten without PBnJs? Most if not all grade schools have a no nut policy 😬 so many moms switch to sunflower butter for school and most kids don’t notice the difference. Chickpea and pumpkin seed butters exist too. Experiment at home making new butter blends, it’s easy!

Let them choose some items for the shopping list. Again, you oversee WHAT to eat, so you frame the choices – carrots or sweet potato this week? Even if you prep the food, this teaches them a lot of skills – being prepared, menu planning, meal balancing.

Let them help prepare the food. Using homemade dough, make your own pizza pockets or put other fillings they like. The slowly become more autonomous, and when they help make them, no complaints about what is in them. Making fruit roll-ups is easy too, and is a great way to use up any too-ripe fruit. It doesn’t have to be Pinterest-worthy – if they made it, they’ll likely eat it.

Let them pack the lunch bag. If you have a child at a “difficult” (aka growthful) stage, letting your little be more in control of herself can pay dividends. It may not always be perfectly healthy, but it’s passable and always gets eaten, and usually, left to their own devices, they end up with a balanced diet at the end of the week.

Try breakfast for lunch. Many kids find this fun and eat it up. You can make ahead batches of your healthier pancakes or French toast and they can be reheated and placed in a keep-warm container. Waffle batter can be stuffed with all kids of things – cheese, frozen veggie mix, bacon pieces. Waffles can be used as sandwich bread too.

Kids with no appetite need other cues. There are some kids that don’t ‘feel’ hungry. They are happy to starve until offered a cheese string. The food must have the right texture and colour and be easy to eat. Make it finger food. Bento boxes, rainbow coloured fruit skewers, happy face mini pizzas, pinwheel sandwiches. (If your child has no appetite, you may want to check their iron levels).

Picky eaters rarely get bored. These kids prefer to know what’s coming 🙂. Don’t stress, if there is variety to the diet overall, lunch can be repetitive without causing much harm.

 

 

What to put it in – Containers that won’t ruin your kids’ hormones – or the planet

Reusable (plastic-free) sandwich bags:

LunchSkins reusable bags/paper bags

MysGreen durable cloth sandwich bags with liners. These are made locally near me in New Westminster, but there are likely some local to you if you look.

Aluminum and plastic-free cling wrap:

Make your own beeswax wrap from cute fabric or buy Abeego beeswax wraps

Use parchment paper, shelf paper or waxed paper with ribbon or elastic bands

Stainless Steel lunch containers:

Non toxic and durable

Lunchbots

Planetbox

ECOlunchbox

Glass lunch containers:

Glasslock

Plastic-free Water Bottles that won’t result in metal-tasting water:

There are a lot of well-known stainless-steel water bottles out there, here are alternatives. 9 oz bottles fit well into most lunch boxes.

Lifefactory make a glass water bottle with a silicone sleeve, with straw, sport, and screw on top options.

Hydro Flask is for you if you can’t take glass to school or you want your beverage to stay insulated this brand of water bottles are very good. They also make nice insulated lunch bags.

 

Feeding formula

Many parents don’t know what macronutrients their kids need, or somehow end up giving sweetened foods all day because starchy carbs, refined grains, sweets and dairy products tend to be very easy (WAY TOO EASY!) to build in or include without a thought. To avoid this, save the granola bars and yogourt for emergency times, like when they are starving after swimming lessons.

*When planning lunch, include quality proteins and fats and get carbs from produce*

New to planning lunch?

Here are two ways to think about planning lunches:

      1. As macro portions:

2 x colourful high-fibre carbs / 1 x complete protein / 1 x healthy fat

      2. As food group portions:

1 fruit         +         1 vegetable      +          1 protein food        + 1 healthy oil / fat

 

Not sure what to include?

Examples of colourful, high-fibre carbs – fruits 

Grapes, blueberries, strawberries, cherry tomato, small oranges, pears, apples, bananas, sliced nectarines or peaches, kiwi, mango spears, cucumber/pickle

Examples of colourful, high-fibre carbs – vegetables 

Peppers, carrot, celery, cauli rice, zucchini, kale, lettuce, beans, sweet potato, pumpkin puree, spaghetti squash noodles, shredded cabbage, baked cassava fingers

Examples of quality protein foods

Organic chicken slices, peas, grass-fed beef, eggs, non-GMO sprouted tofu, wild salmon patties, lentil soup, roasted chickpeas, protein powder, shellfish, pate, turkey burgers

Examples of healthy fats

Avocado, coconut oil, omega oils in sauces (tomato, pesto) or homemade dressings or homemade dips (salsa, guacamole), seed/nut butters (sunflower, coconut, almond), gouda and quality cheese, hummus

 

1 month of mini meals – a possible lunch meal plan

Would you rather not think about it? Try leftovers, or, I made a possible plan for a medium hungry child here:

Week 1

Salad with chicken

– Try kale and quinoa salad with cubes of grilled chicken (or beef) and peaches.

Rice paper salad rolls

– Fill with veggie strips, lettuce, sauce, tofu or shrimp. Cubed watermelon.

Penne

– Lentil pasta in a homemade pesto sauce with pureed veggies/herbs. Peach.

Pinwheels

– Thin sliced meat and cheese, lettuce. Wrap in collards or tortillas. Nectarine.

Savory muffins

– Can be full of veggies, protein (ground turkey?) and cheese. Watermelon cubes.

Week 2

Salmon salad

– With celery and fresh herbs. Serve with rice crackers and sliced apples.

Kabobs

– Your favourite way. Take cubes off skewers if you like. Cucumber discs. Pear.

Spaghetti

– Spaghetti squash pasta in a keep warm container with meat sauce. Grapes.

Soup

– Minestrone with homemade crackers. Apple, or pear in a protective case.

Quesadillas

– Sprouted grain tortillas with bean & cheese. Guac & salsa for dipping. Grapes.

Week 3

Greek salad

– Tomato, cucumber, pitted olives, chicken, avocado, healthy dressing. Orange.

Potstickers/Gyoza

– Vegetable potstickers. Veggie sticks. Tempeh or sausage. Small orange.

Oatmeal

– Add frozen fruit  & whey powder while cooking, put in insulated container, top with omega oil.

Power smoothies

– Purple fruit mix, pureed greens or squash, whey or soft tofu or hemp seeds, flax oil.

Picnic lunch

– Veggies & dip, cheese & crackers, olives, pickles, sausage/tempeh. Orange.

Week 4

Thai noodle salad

– Sunflower-lime sauce, mung bean noodle, carrot, cukes, bean sprouts. Mango.

Lox and cream cheese

– Serve on rye crisps with cherry tomatoes and cucumber spears. Pear.

Slices of French toast

– Make with egg, milk, pumpkin puree and spice, stand the slices in apple sauce.

Mac-n-cheese

– Cheese sauce healthified with pureed cauliflower and nutritional yeast. Pear.

Healthy meatloaf

– Make it delicious, and hide zucchini and organ meat inside! Serve with applesauce.

 

Healthy Snacks, and leftovers as after school snacks

Avocado chocolate pudding

Powerballs / Blissballs

Sweet potato toast, healthy zucchini or banana bread with almond butter

Beet hummus with veggie sticks and seed crackers

Homemade fish patties or turkey meatballs

Greek yogourt with berries and trail mix

Chili

Chia pudding

Vegetable soup

Healthy gummies

Easy English muffin or tortilla pizzas

Stuffed peppers or baked potatoes

Made ahead pancakes with sunflower butter and blended berries

Mexican layered dip

Leftovers

The occasional packaged item or junk food, if your child eats well and is healthy

 

So there you have it.

Tips for meals, snacks, a feeding formula, a meal plan, a bunch of strategies, even what to pack it in.

 

I hope this post helped you somehow. If you read it, you are already an AMAZING and CARING PARENT!

and you have an idea, please comment and share thoughts.

 

Much love, parents – remember, you are doing great!!

Xoxo

Dana

 

 

 

 

 

What is your face telling you?

What is your face telling you?

 

As a health detective, I take in all the information I can get about you. Your face is a wealth of information! That is one reason I highly encourage you to wash your face before we have a session in person or online via webcam.

If you are curious what I see, read on.

Let’s take it from the top…

 

HAIR

Low iron, low thyroid, low iodine, and/or low EFAs (ALA and LA fatty acids) can make hair dry.

If head and body hair are thin or sparser than usual, it may be the thyroid.

Losing your hair could also be a sign of the autoimmune condition alopecia areata.

A red, scaly rash and hair loss could mean low Biotin (B7) levels

Loss of hair from the head, falling out quickly, is often caused by low iron, or thyroid problems. Check iron levels. If you drop below 40 on a ferritin test, that’s very likely to make your hair fall out. You may need to get your numbers above 80for the hair to grow back in well.

Hair that has greyed rapidly is a sign of certain genetic SNPs and of hydrogen peroxide produced from stress 

Hair falling out can be a sign of stress or recent pregnancy

Brittle hair can be a sign of malabsorption or deficiency in selenium or iron or fatty acids

Hair that breaks before it can grow out may be a sign of a need for more silicon and healthier collagen

Thick, stretchy/bouncy hair may mean good collagen/connective tissue health, adequate protein, adequate silica, vitamin C, iron, selenium, and iodine

Shiny hair that is not greasy may mean adequate intake and balance of healthy fats

Dry hair can be a sign of low vitamin C

Dull, brittle, and loose hair can be a sign of protein malnutrition

Hair that has suddenly gone curly can mean damage / illness

Dandruff can be dry skin, sensitivity to hair products; and skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis or eczema. The overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus can also cause dandruff.

 

UPPER FACE

Receding hairline can be traction alopecia, hormone changes like at menopause or high bad testosterone

Cystic acne near the hairline can indicate an allergic response to hair products

Hollow, deflated temples can be a sign of cancer, serious illness or muscle wasting

Extensive skin wrinkling can indicate low vitamin K2, and omega 3 deficiency

11’s between the brows or numerous deep furrows and wrinkles may mean a higher risk of cardiovascular disease

 

EYELIDS and EYEBROWS

Shrinking, thinning eyebrows, especially on the outer third, or right on the inside, is a common sign of low thyroid or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

Losing your eyelashes or eyebrows could be a sign of the autoimmune condition alopecia areata

Drooping lids might mean myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune condition

Soft yellow spots, particularly on the eyelids are usually cholesterol-filled lesions called xanthelasmata. These may show a higher risk of heart disease. A 2011 Danish study of nearly 13,000 patients found that about 4 percent had the spots and that those patients were nearly 70 percent more likely to develop hardening of the arteries and almost 50 percent more likely to have a heart attack over the next few decades than patients without them.

A lupm on the lid, if you have oily skin tendencies, may be a blocked oil duct

A drooping eyelid or side to your face might be one of the first signs of stroke, or or brain or neural issues

 

EYES

Bleeding retinas can be a sign of leukemia or diabetes

Burst blood vessels in the eyes can be from a sudden flare of high blood pressure

Kinky, twisted vessels in the retina can mean an impending stroke

Bulging eyes may be a sign of hyperthyroidism (high thyroid)

Different sized pupils (Horner’s syndrome) can indicate a neck or brain issue, like an aneurysm

Yellow where the whites of your eyes should be could mean hepatitis, liver, gallbladder or pancreas trouble

A white ring around the iris can mean high cholesterol

A dark ring around the eye can indicate lung problems

Dry eyes can be connected to Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus, or Shogren’s syndrome, or an EFA deficiency

Gritty, granular crystals or “sand” in the eyes can be a sign of oxalate dumping

 

UNDER EYES

Dark under-eyes can be a sign of anemia or low iron, celiac disease or allergies. The purple-blue hue can be water or un-oxygenated blood under the surface of thin skin there.

Puffy, tired-looking eyes with luggage under them could be a red flag for chronic allergies, which dilate blood vessels and cause them to leak, or a reaction to makeup

Sunken eyes, loss of orbital fat pads can mean undernourishment, anorexia, or dehydration

Puffy eyes can also be a sign of low iodine.

Puffy or swollen under-eyes can mean depression (crying), or hormonal shifts

Puffy under-eyes can mean kidney disease / low albumin levels.

 

FACE and CHEEKS

Part of the face won’t move? Could mean stroke or Bell’s Palsy

A sallow, pale, deflated skin texture can be a sign of serious illness

An overly red face or broken capillaries can be a sign of hypertension or histamine intolerance

Acne and a mix of oily and dry skin indicates a poor diet, possibly lacking EFAs, zinc and vitamin A

Long hair growing from ears and nose may mean frequent exposure to dust particles

A pale face could be a sign of anemia

Brown or grey blotches on the face are melasma, usually from a pregnancy or hormone surge

Red or white acne-like bumps on your cheeks could mean you are low in essential fatty acids (ALA and LA, found in flax oil) or/and vitamins A and D

Pale or bluish lips or inside the mouth or lower eyelids, instead of pink, could indicate heart or lung disease, or anemia.

Certain infections can trigger facial rashes.

A butterfly-shaped rash across the cheekbones and over the bridge of the nose can be a sign of Lupus.

A change in complexion to a more yellow tone could indicate liver disease, or may indicate that you are eating too many carrots / carotenes!

 

SKIN

Dry, flaky, scaly, cracked, bruised, or bleeding skin can mean protein malnutrition

Dry skin can be a sign of low omega fatty acids, poor fat absorption, low vitamin A, or low iron

Skin rashes can be signs of malabsorption or deficiency in selenium

Glowing, shiny, plump, radiant skin is often a sign of high estrogen.

Red spots, and/ or bad skin can be a sign of low vitamin C

Dry, flaky skin could be a sign of dehydration or a more serious problem that affects sweat gland function, such as hypothyroidism.

Drawn, dry, patchy, dull and thin skin is often related to low estrogen

 

OUTSIDE YOUR MOUTH

Peri-oral dermatitis (a rash around the mouth), eczema, psoriasis and rosacea often indicate some greater immune system imbalance.

Pucker lines around your lips can be a sign of past or present smoking

Cracks at the sides of the mouth often reveal a B vitamin deficiency, but can be iron, zinc, B vitamins like niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2), and B12, or even protein

Cracked lips might mean dehydration, EFA deficiency, or a reaction to steroids

 

INSIDE YOUR MOUTH

Swollen, red gums may be a sign of heart disease.

Sore or bleeding gums or bad skin can be a sign of low vitamin C

Mouth ulcers and cankers can be signs of Crohn’s disease or Celiac.

Discoloured teeth can be sign of malabsorption or deficiency in selenium

Bleeding, receding, dry gums, dry mouth, and wiggly teeth are all typical oral symptoms of patients with diabetes.

A white tongue can mean oral thrush/Candida yeast

A red tongue can mean B-12 or folate deficiency

 

JAW and NECK

Acne along the jawline can be a sign of hormonal imbalance, especially cystic acne

Unwanted hair, particularly along the jawline, chin, and upper lip, could be a symptom of PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome.

Skin tags, such as on the neck, are a common warning sign of diabetes and blood sugar imbalance.

A thick neck with small jaw and receding chin are all more likely to have sleep apnea, a disorder in which your breathing repeatedly stops while you sleep

A lump in the throat of swollen neck could be swollen lymph nodes or a thyroid problem

A swollen neck or dry, flaky skin can be signs of low iodine

Good posture means a happy life, slouching may indicate poor self esteem

Poking neck posture often means long hours of sitting

Alopecia areata can cause patches in a beard

 

ELSEWHERE ON BODY

Wrinkles where the sun doesn’t hit can mean cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis risk

Clusters of red bumps on the upper arms could indicate celiac disease or gluten sensitivity

Red or white acne-like bumps on arms, thighs, or bum could mean you are low in essential fatty acids (ALA and LA, found in flax oil) or/and vitamins A and D

Little red spots called cherry angiomas may be s sign of toxic bromine exposure

Moles, especially ones with irregular borders, can be a sign of melanoma.

Liver spots can be a sign of blood sugar imbalances/surges

Skin rashes and brittle nails can be signs of malabsorption or deficiency in selenium

Ridged, cracked, spoon-shaped, or pale nails can mean protein malnutrition

 

What a list, eh?

And that’s not even everything! At a physical exam, we can learn a lot more from your temperature, blood pressure, weight, demeanour, gait, body composition, nails, feet, posture, and many more signs, but there are some that are easy to check and give your nutritionist information about you.

I also gives you an idea if there is anything you should look into more closely.

Now go wash your face, get a mirror, and have fun!

 

xox

Dana

 

Understanding Metabolism

What is Metabolism?

This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.

You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight.  But what exactly does this all mean?

Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body.  It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive.  And without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.

 

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:

  • Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
  • Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
  • Allow storage of excess energy for later.

So when you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.

Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”.

Metabolic rate

This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).

The calories you eat can go to one of three places:

  • Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
  • Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
  • Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

 

There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate.

 

One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you’re not being physically active.

The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.

 

 

What affects your metabolic rate?

In a nutshell: a lot!

 

The first thing you may think of is your thyroid.

This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism.  Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn.

(It’s very important to not only check your TSH numbers when you get your thyroid checked! That is more than I can get into here, but it is critical. A lot of the time there are things impacting thyroid function that will not be tested for. If you have any concerns, please reach out, I’mm happy to steer you in the right direction!)

But your thyroid’s not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.

 

How big you are counts too!

Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!

 

As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does.  So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be.  Even when you’re not working out.

This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program.  Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.

 

The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don’t want to happen.  So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.

Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing “work”.

 

The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!

Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food.  This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).

You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%.  By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.

 

Eating smart

Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow.  By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.

Another thing is, when you are choosing carbohydrates, choose those that are more fibre than sugar or starch is a smart way to control your blood sugar balance and metabolism hormones.

When choosing fats, choose more the omega fatty acids (Omega 3/6) or medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) for the best metabolic effect.

 

And don’t forget the mind-body connection.

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.

 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.

 

Check out below –  lean protein recipe: Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

 

1-2 lemons, sliced

1 tablespoon rosemary

1 tablespoon thyme

2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced

4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)

dash salt & pepper

1 tablespoon Avocado oil

1 tablespoon Omega oil blend (reserve)

 

Preheat oven to 450F.

Cooking hot, fast and uncovered produced a nice juicy bakes chicken, and not a tough steamed or dry roasted one.

Layer the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish.  Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.

Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper.  Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken.  Drizzle with avocado oil.  Do not cover or tent with parchment paper.

Bake for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Make sure to check with instant read thermometer before removing chicken breast from the oven.

Cooking time varies depending on thickness of meat. It’s very easy.

  1. Thin under 2 inches thick: Bake for 25 minutes.
  2. Thick over 2 inches thick: Bake for 35 minutes.

Cook in both cases ensure it has reached a minimum internal temperature of 150 degrees F.

After baking it’s important to cover let chicken breast and allow it to rest. The chicken breast will reach internal temperature of 165 degrees F during this time. 

Drizzle wit omega oil. Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!

 

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/

Why you ruin your diet every.single.night. and 10 things to do instead

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If you eat everything at night…it is likely due to what you are doing during the day.

NO …you argue! I eat well, I eat light. I behave all day.

Because I love you I am going to help you see this a little clearer: It’s probably due to your blood sugar! Even a person who eats “healthy” food can have unbalanced blood sugar.

 

Spoiler Alert – here are the answers:

They are:

• Stop eating and drinking things that are mostly sugar;
• Don’t eat too many carbohydrates;
• Choose “low glycemic” starches;
• Eat more fibre;
• Eat your protein and fibrous vegetables, first;
• Fruit is ok, especially dark berries;
• Try these blood-sugar balancing flavourings (vinegar & cinnamon);
• Get enough good quality sleep;
• Exercise;
• Reduce your stress;

 

So now where I talk a lot…

1 – Stop eating and drinking things that are mostly sugar

advent bake blur break
mmm sugar cookies.

First things first. If a food or drink is mostly sugar, please try to reduce, or even cut it out of your diet. Clearly.

I’m talking sweetened beverages (e.g. pop, juice, energy drinks, candy, etc.), most desserts. Of course.

However, many breakfasts, and even seemingly-healthy choices like some granola bars often have a lot of sugar.

ALERT:: The green smoothies at Starbucks can have up to 25 GRAMS of sugar.

Significantly reducing these will give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to better blood sugar levels. That’s why it’s my number one recommendation.

 

2 – Don’t eat too many carbohydrates

Hear me out. I’m not anti-carb. But everyone has a different tolerance, and even good carbs can be overdone.

Your body digests starches by breaking them down into sugar. By reducing the amount of sugars and starches (carbohydrates) you eat, you can reduce that blood sugar spike that happens right after you eat. This has been shown in many studies.

It’s been said that one of the strongest predictors of blood sugar response is the total amount of carbohydrates in a meal.

Reducing your overall carbohydrate intake can help to reduce your blood sugar levels. If you are really hungry, try adding some healthy fats.

 

3 – Choose “low glycemic” starches

potatoes fun knife fork
Whole potatoes with skin don’t have to be a ‘never’ food

Look! You still get carbs. Just eat more above-ground plants, and combine them with fat.

Low glycemic foods include ones that are higher in fibre, fat and protein. Examples are meat, seafood, eggs, legumes, sweet potatoes, and most fruit and non-starchy vegetables.

If you’ve already cut out a lot of sugary foods and want to reduce your starch intake, then start by ditching the “high glycemic” (i.e. ones that raise your blood sugar too high) starches.

As you can imagine, researchers have measured how fast and how high blood sugar increases with different foods. Foods that are “high glycemic” quickly raise blood sugar quite high. “Low glycemic” foods raise blood slower and to a smaller extent.

This “glycemic effect” is the result of the components in the food itself.

Things like the amount of carbohydrate, the type of carbohydrate (i.e. sugar vs starch), and what other nutrients are in the food (i.e. protein, fibre, etc.) as well.

The fibre, fat and protein in a food slows down the digestion and absorption of the carbohydrates, so the blood sugar rise slows down too. This results in a lower “glycemic effect.” (So, buttering toast can be a GOOD idea!)

High glycemic foods (i.e. ones to avoid) include sugary foods, as well as starchy foods like white bread, many pastas, and rice.

NOTE: Eating a low glycemic food along with a high glycemic food will help to slow down the blood sugar rise from the higher glycemic food. It’s not just the single food that matters, but the rest of the meal also affects your blood sugar.

Which leads us to…

 

4 – Eat more fibre

Yes, this is the best carb of all! You’ve heard that “fibre makes you regular,” right? It’s so healthy. Most people don’t eat nearly enough. The recommended daily intake of fibre for adults is 21 g – 38 g per day.

This nutrient is not just for “regularity” and gut health, but also for blood sugar balance too. Those are 3 VERY good reasons to get fibre.

It works by mixing with the carbohydrates in your meal, and slowing down the absorption of the sugars from those carbohydrates.

Some of the highest fibre foods include cocoa powder, flaxseeds, & legumes.

If you react to fibre, go slow, and keep it soft. Feel free to add a spoon of cocoa powder to your smoothie, add soaked flaxseeds or cooked apples on your cereal, and/or add some legumes to your soup or salad.

 

5 – Do eat enough, especially your protein and fibrous vegetables, and eat them first

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Since blood sugar is affected by the amount of carbohydrates you eat, studies have also looked at the order in which you eat different foods.

A few small studies looked at adults with type 2 diabetes. They all had the same meal, but some were asked to eat their protein and fibrous (i.e. non-starchy) vegetables first; while others ate their carbohydrates first.

They found that people who ate the protein and vegetables first had better blood sugar control. One of the studies also showed lower levels of post-meal insulin when the carbohydrates were eaten last.

Another study found these blood sugar benefits to be true even in people without type 2 diabetes.

It’s thought that when we eat carbohydrates first, we start digesting them right away. But, if we eat them after our protein and fibrous vegetables, they have a chance to mix in with the rest of the food in your stomach. This can slow down their absorption, which slows down how fast and high our blood sugar gets after we eat.

The effects of changing food order hasn’t been tested in many big studies, but it is supported by metabolic researchers and seems to be a simple and safe habit to get into to help our bodies better regulate blood sugar levels.

Try to eat your protein and fibrous vegetables first, and starches last.

 

6 – Fruit is ok, especially dark berries

Unless your doctor or health practitioner has said otherwise, or you have an intolerance to them, fruit and the fruit sugar “fructose” are generally ok. Fructose has a low glycemic index.

Having fructose instead of glucose (regular sugar) can reduce a measure of the average levels of blood sugar over the past two to three months (e.g. HbA1c – a blood test for blood sugar control).

A diet high in fruits and vegetables is great for your health. They contain phytochemicals (phyto=plant), vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Eating whole (not processed or juiced) fruits can help with blood sugar balance. Berries are particularly good, as they contain a lot of fibre and not a lot of sugar. Not to mention that they’re delicious!

Berries, especially dark berries, contain pigments known as “anthocyanins.” These dark-coloured pigments have lots of health benefits including helping sugar metabolism in people with insulin resistance. They can also improve ability to think, and their antioxidant effects are linked to reduced DNA damage.

You can get enough anthocyanins from a regular serving of dark berries, so give them a try.

 

7 – Try these blood-sugar balancing flavourings (vinegar & cinnamon)

Try having two tablespoons of vinegar shortly before or with a meal that contains sugars or starches.

Why? Because a recent analysis of several studies (a meta-analysis) showed that the vinegar can lower the blood sugar by up to 60% and the insulin by up to 130% compared to the same meal without vinegar. This worked for insulin-resistant people. Even healthy people had a significant benefit.

Cinnamon can help to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. This effect can happen with even less than one teaspoon per day.

It’s thought that cinnamon works by slowing the emptying of the stomach. Slower emptying means slower absorption and slower blood sugar rise after a meal. Cinnamon also contains antioxidant polyphenols (plant chemicals) that may improve insulin sensitivity. If you like it, eat it.

 

8 – Get enough good quality sleep

Our bodies are wired to work along the sun’s schedule. The objective is to wake up when the sun comes up, and get tired when it goes down. Not enough sleep can affect many of our body’s systems, including negatively affecting our blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. It can also increase appetite and promote weight gain.

Even one or two nights of poor sleep can affect our blood sugar levels.

Regularly getting enough good quality sleep is a great step toward helping our bodies manage blood sugar.

 

9 – Pump iron / exercise

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Resistance exercise can burn fat without making you famished the way cardio does.

Remember how insulin tells your muscle cells to pull some sugar out of your blood to store for later? Guess what it’s storing it for?

Exercise!

By exercising and burning that stored sugar, you not only improve your blood sugar levels, and your physical and mental health in many ways, but also can reduce insulin resistance. Win-win-win.

This means your muscle cells, especially when they’re moving, absorb and burn more sugar from the blood. This goes for both medium- and high-intensity exercise.

 

10 – Reduce your stress

Ok, so basically, functional practitioners go to school for 4 years to learn that every ailment is due to stress! LOL. Let’s talk about the blood sugar effect of stress hormones like cortisol.

Things like not eating for a few hours, or being under stress releases sugar stored in the liver and muscles and delivers them back to the blood!

The reason stress hormones release stored sugar is to prepare for the “fight or flight” reaction. Your body becomes physically ready to fight or run. And to do this, you need fuel in your blood, i.e. sugar.

How can you reduce stress? Relaxation techniques like deep BELLY breathing, meditation, and yoga can help to reduce stress and lower blood sugar levels.

 

Summary

If you eat yourself silly at night, “against your will” your blood sugar is not steady.

Either you starved yourself from total calories, eat too many starches, or get inadequate fibre, protein and fat, in the day.

There are some nutrition and lifestyle upgrades you can make for better health, including eating more fibre, protein, fat and sleeping better and exercising, in order to balance your blood sugar.

xox

Dana

To Breakfast or Not to Breakfast?

You have probably read a few things (maybe a few of my posts?) on the benefits of IF or Intermittent Fasting. And if you have read about IF or fasting you’ve probably learned that the most popular meal to skip is breakfast.

However, like most things in life, there are no absolutes or clear rules that apply to all.

For some people, eating 3 meals per day, especially breakfast, can be very important. This might not be true for their whole lives, but under certain circumstances, I feel it is best to eat breakfast. Let’s find out when this is true, and why.

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Breakfast – Why It’s Important for Busy Women Not to Skip

The alarm goes off and you are rushing around preparing for a busy day ahead, whether you have children to get ready for school, or papers to read for a morning meeting, by the time you’ve watched the news, brushed your teeth and sorted your make-up, you are already exhausted – sound familiar?

It’s no wonder so many busy women end up skipping breakfast and just grabbing an expensive coffee which is drunk in the car on the way. But there are many reasons why this habit is bad for our health.

First of all, eating in the car or when watching the news is really not good. In both cases, the stress that is happening at the level of your nervous system will interfere with digestion.

So one of the reason you need to eat is to take a time out and breathe. Sip, chew, breathe, chew, chew, relax, chew…its just a few moments, relax, you’ll live, I swear.

One of the other main benefits is to get real nutrients.

Although fasting can have benefits, and mimicking a fast with a bulletproof coffee or tea can keep us energized until noon, real breakfast with real food provides nutrition, and that’s what calms nerves and heals the body.

Grass-fed butter with eggs and greens or a bowl of hearty soup are great options for starting the day in a way that nourishes the adrenals, the glands responsible for keeping a stressed woman going.

For me, fasting is still something I aim but usually fail to do, as I still wake up hungry. I also deal with a lot of stress, so I listen to my body, and nourish it in the morning.

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Breakfast – Why It’s Important for Sugar (and alcohol)-Sensitive people Not to Skip

The brain chemistry of people who are prone to getting addicted to (or who find themselves fighting not to be addicted to) sugar and alcohol, and even many street drugs, is different from other people. They have less serotonin, less beta-endorphin, and usually much more variable blood sugar. This is why they crave and get hooked on sugar, or alcohol, or whatever spikes their hormones – they need this to feel okay.

It is therefore not fair to expect such a body and brain to deal with the mild abuse a stronger, less sensitive body can take. Mild abuse, like say, nutritionally empty foods, or blood sugar-spiking foods, or even, no food at all. You will not get ‘normal’ moods and performance out of a sugar-sensitive body, and should not expect it, under these poor circumstances.

If you think about it properly, when you wake up in the morning, your body has had no fuel since your evening meal the night before – potentially 12 hours beforehand – so your body is in starvation. Think about the words – “break” “fast” – literally the meal which breaks the fast you have been on while sleeping.

If you are sugar sensitive, do not skip meals, including breakfast, and take care not to eat a breakfast that is mainly sugar, or mainly simply carbs, as they break down to sugar. You’ll notice a HUGE difference.

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Breakfast Provides Many Benefits to Our Health and Wellbeing

You need the energy to kick-start your system and get your body ready for the day ahead. According to some other nutritionists, a healthy breakfast should give you around 30% of your daily calorie requirements. It provides us with energy, protein, calcium, iron, fiber and B vitamins which are all needed to get you through the day. If your body doesn’t receive these first thing, studies have shown your body is less effective at taking them on during the rest of the day.

In terms of our circadian clocks, our bodies are best primed for food between 9 and 5 at most latitudes, but food also helps set your body’s sense of awakeness – the longer you wait to eat, the harder it might be to wake early. In terms of time, breakfast really needs to be eaten by most people between 45 minutes and two hours of waking up.

This timing gives you the chance to put the needed fuel into your body to make sure your metabolism is balanced throughout the day.

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How Eating Breakfast Helps You Lose Weight

If you skip breakfast (skipping is not the same as intentionally fasting) you are not providing your body with what it needs for energy and you will soon get hungry and are more likely to then reach for high sugar, high fat snacks, to compensate. People who skip breakfast tend to end up reaching for the snacks around 10am which doesn’t help if you are trying to lose weight.

This aspect means breakfast really sets your body up for the day and can help curb those mid-morning sugar cravings. In a study it was revealed that people who not only ate breakfast, but made it their largest meal, lost almost 18 pounds over a three month period.

The other people, who took part in the study, eating the same calories during the day but most of these for their evening meal, lost only around seven pounds. This study was published in Obesity.

Make breakfast your energy priority

A good nutritious breakfast will give the first supply of energy your body receives daily. For all the energy you need to take you through to lunchtime, it should be at least around 300 calories, as a general rule.

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Other Health Benefits Beyond Weight Loss

Breakfast brings a large number of health benefits, besides weight loss.

In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a published study revealed that not eating breakfast could actually increase the risk of diabetes for women. The study showed that women who did eat breakfast between no, and six times a week, were at far higher risk of developing the disease than those who ate it daily.

Brain Function Studies have proven that children who eat breakfast do better at school as they are better able to concentrate and behave well. Breakfast helps to restore the levels of glucose which help with our brain function, and helps balance out our insulin levels.

However, I still suggest they be paired with a fat and a protein! This helps to improve memory, concentration and mood and also lowers stress levels. We all know that feeling of anger that rises up through being hungry. Breakfast can help us avoid this.

In order to avoid the blood sugar roller coaster later, we need to eat a balanced breakfast. That’s why I do suggest proteins at breakfast, but since most people don’t want to cook on weekdays in my experience, I will make some other suggestions, other than cooking up bacon every day.

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Ideas for Quick and Nutritious Breakfasts

So it’s all very well telling you why you should eat breakfast, and why it’s good for you, but realistically you probably knew most of those things already and yet, you were still skipping?

Knowing you need to eat breakfast, doesn’t mean you suddenly gain time in the morning to start preparing and making amazing morning meals does it? That’s why I have come up with some tips for improving the most common tasty breakfasts that are super quick to make and don’t require a frying pan.

Of course, you can always make a pot of soup or prep some mini frittatas in advance next Sunday, and that would be ideal!

In the main time, as you work on that habit, and schedule some time into your Sunday for shopping and cooking, here I will look at some common breakfasts and how to improve on them.

An Energy Bar and Fruit

The combination of a piece of fruit and energy bar does not always create a balanced breakfast, despite what you may hear elsewhere. While nothing is quicker than just peeling a wrapper and grabbing a piece of fruit and eating them straight away, doing this could be either a great thing or awful depending on what exactly you eat. Often it is too high in sugar and too processed to be good.

Ensure that the bars provide more provide fiber than sugar and a high ratio of protein to carbs. I like paleo bars with simple ingredients, and those with seeds, nut butters, nuts and dried fruit (as opposed to oats and sugar with chocolate-like topping).

The amount of sugar, fat, fibre and protein is what is going to make a big difference to your health. It takes real looking to find commercial bars that have a good ratio, so I suggest  you eventually make your own, with enough fibre, fat and protein, and not just carbs. Make your OWN bars from scratch from real ingredients and held together with bananas/flax/chia, then freeze a huge batch.

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Instant Oatmeal

There are many instant porridge sachets around now – all you need to do is add water and microwave for a few minutes and then you have a healthy breakfast – or do you?

Again, here it is imperative to avoid the ones with added sugar and flavours. Aim for a heartier oat flake, for a lower glycemic load, and go organic as well – oats are notorious for being well sprayed with glyphosate. If you have gluten sensitivity, avoid oats, they are contaminated with gluten.

In order to keep the calories from sugar down, buy a plain version, or lightly flavoured, and add your own toppings such as flax oil, grass-fed butter, berries and seeds to provide an easy breakfast virtually instantly.

Eventually, start making overnight oats or chia puddings, and just grab and go in the morning.

Greek-Style Yoghurt

Go for natural plain Greek-style yoghurt or SKyr. If you cannot find a high-fat version, add in a source of fat (like avocado, oil, or nuts), and then add some protein (like collagen and hemp seeds), and fresh fruit, for a nutritious, quick and healthy breakfast on the run.

Do stick to unsweetened. Even if you add honey or maple syrup, it’s healthier than the sweetening they add for you.

Again, this only takes a minute or so to prepare and can make a big difference to your health and wellbeing.

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High-Fibre Cereal

A lot of people love raisin bran. It’s tasty and helps to keep us regular, right?

While it can bring health benefits and help you feel full, opting for a high fiber cereal that is also very high in sugar is not a great long term plan. Make sure you avoid the traditional sugar filled cereals as these will spike your blood sugar while not necessarily helping provide what your body needs.

Go instead for the more natural organic cereals that have optimal ingredients and nutrition. Read the label. Look from whole grain, and ancient grains. (Whole wheat is not the same as whole grain.) Never consume more than 10 grams of sugar in a sitting, and always pair it with fat, fibre and protein, even if it’s from full fat milk.

The Take Away

For many people, a busy lifestyle means rushing in the morning and skipping breakfast is a common but bad habit to get into.

Breakfast can make a big difference to our health and weight, reaping the benefits for us. There are many options which are quick and easy to make, and also provide nutrition – from smoothies to energy bars, from cereal to scrambled eggs, so no more excuses people!

xox

Dana

 

Riding the Blood Sugar Roller Coaster

I’ve spoken about the ups and downs of blood sugar…but what if it’s just steadily Creeping Up?

Today I share info on the topic so you can get control.

Blood sugar is literally that: the sugar in your blood. Your blood contains all kinds of important nutrients and other substances that we need to be healthy. Including sugar. Blood is the liquid transporter that distributes these compounds to all parts of our bodies.

Sugar (a type of carbohydrate) is one of our body’s main fuels. The other two fuels are fat and protein. I call it “fuel” because our cells literally burn it to do work. It’s this “biochemical” burning of fuel in all of our cells that is our metabolism.

So, how does blood sugar get too high? What diet and lifestyle upgrades can we do to manage it?

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In this post, I’ll talk a bit about blood sugar balance, insulin resistance, and diabetes.

I gave you 10 proven strategies that can help manage blood sugar level naturally in my post on late night eating.

The good news is that blood sugar levels are responsive to diet and lifestyle upgrades.

You have power to help manage your blood sugar with these key strategies!

NOTE: There are several medical, diet, and lifestyle approaches to managing medical conditions. None of these are a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have any of these conditions, or are taking medications for it, please make sure you’re being monitored regularly.

Blood sugar balance

Our body strives to be in balance. It exerts a lot of energy to make sure that our systems are all running smoothly. Our digestive system, nervous system, cardiovascular (heart & blood vessels) system, etc. And this includes our blood too. Our bodies try to balance our blood pressure, blood volume, blood sugar, etc.

There is a normal and healthy range of sugar levels in our blood. The problem doesn’t start until these levels are out of range, i.e. too high for too long.

Here’s how our bodies strive to maintain optimal levels of blood sugar:

• We eat a food containing carbohydrates (i.e. sugar and/or starch).
• Our digestive system breaks down the sugar and/or starch into smaller sugars like glucose. These smaller sugars are then absorbed into our bloodstream. This naturally raises our blood sugar level.
• When our blood sugar gets too high, the pancreas (a gland in our digestive system) sends out insulin. Insulin is a hormone that tells our muscles, liver and, ultimately, fat cells to grab that sugar from the blood. These cells use the sugar they need for energy now, and store the rest for later.
• The muscles and liver store sugar (e.g. glucose) temporarily. When we need it, our muscles and liver give up their sugar into the blood. This happens, for example, when we haven’t eaten for a few hours, we’re exercising, or we’re under stress.

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As you can see, the amount of sugar in your blood is constantly flowing up and down. Up when we eat; down when the insulin tells the cells to pull it out of the blood. Then up again when we eat again and/or start using some of the stored glucose. And down again as it’s used (burned) or stored.

This is all good and healthy! This is what we aim for.

Blood sugar imbalance (insulin resistance & type-2 diabetes)

The problem is when the balance is thrown off. When the blood sugar ups and downs become unhealthy. When the “ups” get too high, and they stay there for too long.

Too much blood sugar can cause heart rate issues (arrhythmias), and in extreme cases, even seizures. Too high blood sugar for too long can eventually cause long-term damage to organs and limbs.

A healthy blood sugar balance is key.

A common way our blood sugar gets too high is when we eat a lot of sugar in a short time. Especially processed sugar, like in soda pop, energy drinks, desserts, etc. Our digestive system absorbs as much sugar from our food as possible. This is an evolutionary thing. We inherited this from thousands of years ago when food was scarce and the next meal was unknown. Our bodies adapted to crave, absorb, and store as much sugar as possible in one sitting, because it didn’t know how long it would be until the next meal. It’s a survival mechanism.

Over the years, if we frequently eat a lot of sugar and have increased body fat, our bodies can change. The muscle and liver cells start ignoring insulin’s call to absorb sugar from the blood. They become “insulin resistant.” When this happens, the sugar stays in the blood for a lot longer than normal. Blood sugar levels become too high for too long.

But this doesn’t stop the pancreas from releasing even more insulin. When this happens you have the paradox of high blood sugar and high insulin.

Some symptoms of insulin resistance are:
• Fatigue after meals;
• Sugar cravings that don’t go away, even if sweets are eaten;
• Increased thirst;
• Frequent urination.

Too-high levels of both blood sugar and insulin is not a healthy place to be in. In fact, it can be dangerous and lead to pre-diabetes, and eventually type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a long-term (a.k.a. “chronic”) condition of too high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and inflammation. It increases the risk of many serious conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation. Not to mention the number of medications often prescribed to try to keep blood sugar balanced.

DIABETES TYPE 1 vs. TYPE 2: Type 1 diabetes is when your immune system actually destroys the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. It’s an “autoimmune” condition where your pancreas literally cannot make insulin. This is often diagnosed early in life (childhood/adolescence) and requires lifelong insulin injections. Less than 10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes; everyone else has type 2.

These are the connections between blood sugar balance, insulin resistance, diabetes, and their symptoms and risks.

The good news about blood sugar imbalance

The good news is that improved blood sugar balance can be achieved with proper nutrition and lifestyle! What you eat, how you eat it, how much exercise and sleep you get, and how you handle stress are all factors that you can improve.

CAUTION: If you’re already diagnosed, and/or taking medications or insulin injections, make sure you speak with your doctor and/or pharmacist before making any changes. They may also want to monitor your blood sugar levels a bit closer when you start making diet and lifestyle upgrades.

Personalized Nutrition is everything

Everyone has a unique biochemistry.

We also each have a unique microbiome.

Our metabolism is therefore unlike anyone else’s.

And recently, a study finally proved it.

I have always loved the idea of biochemical individuality, since the first time I was introduced to it years ago.

There was a FABULOUS study that was published in 2015 in the journal CELL that dug into the topic really well.

The brief of the study, which was titled Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses, stated the following:

People eating identical meals present high variability in post-meal blood glucose response. Personalized diets created with the help of an accurate predictor of blood glucose response that integrates parameters such as dietary habits, physical activity, and gut microbiota may successfully lower post meal blood glucose and its long-term metabolic consequences.

What this says in essence, is that everyone (they had a sample size of 800 people) reacts to food differently, but that by taking into account everything they learned about people, their gut health and diet and exercise habits, they could give them diets that suited them and allowed them to avoid the major consequences of metabolic problems like diabetes.

That’s right.

By eating in a way that suited them, that was different for each of them, they were ABLE TO NOT SUFFER DIABETIC COMPLICATIONS.

The individualized dietary advice was based on factors like their microbiome, eating patterns, blood work and body composition.

This was not a group of US Americans with vastly different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures, it was a study of a slightly more cohesive group, Isrealies.

Meaning even in a more homogeneous group, there were significant differences.

David Zeevi, Tal Korem, Niv Zmora, …, Zamir Halpern, Eran Elinav, and Eran Segal authored the Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses study

The predictions based on the information gathered was sufficient to prevent blood sugar imbalance in the subjects using vastly different approaches.

It goes to show, one size doesn’t fit all.

Dana

Xox

IF and TRE – Eating on the clock

Intermittent Fasting (IF) and Time Restricted Eating (TRE) are here to stay.

And for good reasons:

Intermittent fasting is a way to get the benefits of a regular calorie reduced diet without restricting what you eat, just when you eat it.

Intermittent fasting reduces both weight and fat, and can improve blood sugar and blood lipids. It has been shown to reduce blood pressure and some markers of inflammation. Many animal studies show improvements in brain health too.

While these benefits of IF are similar to those with calorie reduced diets, IF has some key advantages including being easier for some people to stick with and it might help people eat more intentionally.

There is also evidence that IF preferentially reduces fat while preserving muscle and may help our bodies become more “metabolically flexible.”

More research is needed to really understand long-term benefits of IF on the body and brain, as well as which IF approach is optimal for different people and different health goals.

IF is one way that women in menopause can manage their hormonal weight gain. Just remember, the studies show that women often do better on a relatively short IF schedule (like 12 hours is enough to get benefits!).

So no reason not to start.

I like to make myself butter teas and Bulletproof type coffees when I am not quite into fasting.

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Butter tea can help you mimic fasting while you transition away from meals towards fasting

 

They help me to get closer to a fasted state. Using foods they consist of mainly fibre, water and fat (the types of foods that would be on a keto diet) is sometimes called being on a fasting-mimicking diet.

We can explore that idea in future posts.

xoxo

Dana

As promised, the science:

References:

Anton, S. D., Moehl, K., Donahoo, W. T., Marosi, K., Lee, S., Mainous, A. G., … Mattson, M. P. (2018). Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying Health Benefits of Fasting. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 26(2), 254–268. http://doi.org/10.1002/oby.22065
LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5783752/

Antoni, R., Johnston, K.L., Collins, A.L. & Robertson, M.D. (2016). Investigation into the acute effects of total and partial energy restriction on postprandial metabolism among overweight/obese participants. Br J Nutr, 115(6), 951-9. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515005346.
LINK: https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/53531AD2D87F6EAF46882955EC832A80/S0007114515005346a.pdf/div-class-title-investigation-into-the-acute-effects-of-total-and-partial-energy-restriction-on-postprandial-metabolism-among-overweight-obese-participants-div.pdf

Brandhorst, S., Choi, I. Y., Wei, M., Cheng, C. W., Sedrakyan, S., Navarrete, G., … Longo, V. D. (2015). A periodic diet that mimics fasting promotes multi-system regeneration, enhanced cognitive performance and healthspan. Cell Metabolism, 22(1), 86–99. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2015.05.012
LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4509734/

Carter, S., Clifton, P.M. & Keogh, J.B. (2016). The effects of intermittent compared to continuous energy restriction on glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes; a pragmatic pilot trial. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 122, 106-112. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2016.10.010.
LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27833048

Clifton, P. (2017). Assessing the evidence for weight loss strategies in people with and without type 2 diabetes. World Journal of Diabetes, 8(10), 440–454. http://doi.org/10.4239/wjd.v8.i10.440
LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5648990/

Fontana, L., & Partridge, L. (2015). Promoting Health and Longevity through Diet: from Model Organisms to Humans. Cell, 161(1), 106–118. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2015.02.020
LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4547605/

Harvie, M., & Howell, A. (2017). Potential Benefits and Harms of Intermittent Energy Restriction and Intermittent Fasting Amongst Obese, Overweight and Normal Weight Subjects—A Narrative Review of Human and Animal Evidence. Behavioral Sciences, 7(1), 4. http://doi.org/10.3390/bs7010004
LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5371748/

Headland, M., Clifton, P. M., Carter, S., & Keogh, J. B. (2016). Weight-Loss Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Intermittent Energy Restriction Trials Lasting a Minimum of 6 Months. Nutrients, 8(6), 354. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu8060354
LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4924195/

Horne, B.D., Muhlestein, J.B., Lappé, D.L., May, H.T., Carlquist, J.F., Galenko, O., Brunisholz, K.D. & Anderson, J.L. (2013). Randomized cross-over trial of short-term water-only fasting: metabolic and cardiovascular consequences. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis, 23, 1050–7.
LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23220077

Horne, B.D., Muhlestein, J.B., & Anderson, J.L. (2015). Health effects of intermittent fasting: hormesis or harm? A systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr, 102(2), 464-70. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.109553.
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Hussin, N.M., Shahar, S., Teng, N.I.M.F., Ngah, W.Z.W. & Das, S.K. Efficacy of fasting and calorie restriction (FCR) on mood and depression among ageing men. J Nutr Health Aging, 17, 674–80.
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Keogh, J.B., Pedersen, E., Petersen, K.S. & Clifton, P.M. (2014). Effects of intermittent compared to continuous energy restriction on short-term weight loss and long-term weight loss maintenance. Clin Obes, 4(3), 150-6. doi: 10.1111/cob.12052.
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Who should NOT fast

person mixing cereal milk and strawberry jam on white ceramic bowl

So in July I turned 40 and soon after I wrote a post about Intermittent Fasting.

In this post, before I go getting everyone excited about it, I feel I should dive in Who Shouldn’t Try intermittent fasting (IF) or time restricted eating (TRE).

PRO TIP: Before you try any major changes to your diet, check with your healthcare provider.

There are a few things to keep in mind before considering intermittent fasting.

A number of adverse effects have been reported, including: bad temper, low mood, lack of concentration, feeling cold, nausea, vomiting, constipation, swelling, hair loss, muscle weakness, uric acid in the blood and reduced kidney function, menstrual irregularities, abnormal liver function tests, headaches, fainting, weakness, dehydration, mild metabolic acidosis, preoccupation with food, erratic eating patterns, binging, and hunger pangs.

If done too often or for too many days IF can have more serious effects.

Fasting for several weeks (about 5-7 weeks) becomes starvation even in healthy adults. At this point your body starts consuming muscles and vital organs. This can also lead to excessive weight loss, anemia, chronic diarrhea, delirium, lactic acidosis, small bowel obstruction, kidney failure, heart arrhythmias, and eventually death.

You know, all the reasons starvation diets and actual starving have a bad reputation.

Excessive fasting can lead to malnutrition (including vitamin B1 deficiency), decreased bone density, eating disorders, susceptibility to infectious diseases, or moderate damage to organs.

Limit fasting to avoid these effects.

 

Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I may come back to it some day.

 

For now, I’m excited to cover the benefits in the next post!

IF can provide a lot of health benefits, and according to Patterson & Sears (2017):

“Overall, evidence suggests that intermittent fasting regimens are not harmful physically or mentally (i.e. in terms of mood) in healthy, normal weight, overweight, or obese adults.”

So we will discuss that next!

xox

Dana

 

Why I was totally wrong about fasting

metabolismThere was a time when I told every client not to skip breakfast or to go too long without eating. I was certain that going too long, on too little food, would wreak havoc on their metabolisms. It was what I learned, and it made sense.

And then I learned the health benefits of intermittent fasting.

I hate to admit it, particularly because my little sister was an expert about it well before I was…(oh for shame) but the science shows that if you want to lose fat, improve metabolism, and experience other health benefits, all without giving up your favourite foods, intermittent fasting might be the way for you!

It’s an emerging area of research and the results are very promising.

Although the things I learned years ago about insufficient food intake (starvation diets) and poorly executed calorie restriction (forgetting to eat) still hold true (spoiler alert – they are still bad), intermittent fasting is different enough that it has benefits for weight loss and for metabolic improvements.

In some ways these benefits are similar to those from well-executed calorie-reduced diets, but longer fasting might even improve our health at deeper levels, including brain and mental health.

Intermittent fasting (I-F as the inner circle call it) has a few advantages over regular calorie reduced diets.

Not only is it easier for many people to stick with, but it also seems to have a metabolic advantage. These are really good things when it comes to long-term health, and they are the reasons why I completely did an about-face on the issue of skipping meals.

Intermittent fasting is just that – fasting intermittently (periodically). It’s an “eating pattern,” rather than a “diet.” The pattern part is important, because pattern suggests “mindfulness”.

That means regularly reducing your eating and drinking during pre-set times.

It’s controlling when you eat and drink, as opposed to what you eat and drink.

☆Cue eureka harp noises☆

There are lots of ways to intermittently fast. I

t can be done daily, weekly, or monthly. In future posts, I will go over the health benefits, we’ll look at some of the most popular methods of how to, and who shouldn’t, I-F.

So be sure to read about how and why to give it a try.

Ciao for now, Dana.