What a great day to change your life. So where do you start?
Part One – Overhauling Your Dietary Habits
This is a huge piece to the wellness puzzle, and oh my goodness is there ever a TON of conflicting information out there. It’s impossible to be able to tell the good information from the not-so-good sometimes, especially with all the different “fad” diets, cleanses, and restrictions that affect our eating habits. The resource that is recommended by Health Canada is Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating which includes examples of what foods fit into each of four food groups. It also offers tips on how to eat optimally for your age and gender, beginning at age two (younger children should follow the advice of their family physician to ensure all health requirements are being met).
Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating also gives examples of proper portion sizes. The reality is that we could actually be over or under-eating certain foods and not even know it. Did you know that one bagel is actually two servings of grain products? That two eggs is one serving of Meat and Alternatives? That half a cup of pure fruit juice is one serving? I have personally found it helpful to have a food scale in my home. Having the visual really helped me to learn what a single portion looks like, and has helped me to ensure that myself as well as my entire family is eating a healthy and balanced diet. So much information is available just by going to:
Real change takes work, commitment, and willpower. Dietary habits are life-long habits which you have become accustomed to from a young age, and it can be difficult to learn a different eating culture. Changing small things (to start!) can help to find long-term success. A few tips that you can do to get started are:
- Choose whole grain bread products over white, it will help you feel full longer
- Increase water consumption – drink a glass of water before you eat a meal
- Choose vegetables and fruit more often than juice
- Trim visible fats from your meat and remove the skin from poultry
- Try something new! Tofu, quinoa, soy, brown rice, lentils etc. might sound bizarre to you, but you might amaze yourself with the items that you actually like!
It is important to note that that specialized diets do have a place in wellness, however if you are restricting anything from your diet (ie: dairy, gluten/wheat, sugar) My advice is to have a registered dietician or physician’s recommendation and guidance to do so safely.
Written by: Lena J. Schellenberg, Crowfoot YMCA Strength and Conditioning Instructor
In today’s society, there are hundreds of fad diets out there that people are desperately trying in order to lose weight. The problem with these diets is that they often deprive our bodies of vital nutrients and leave us feeling fatigued and starving. In last month’s blog, we discussed The Paleo Solution. Carb cycling is somewhat different but yet extremely effective. It’s an approach that bodybuilders and figure competitors swear by and have been doing so for years. Many use the 3:1 day ratio meaning 3 low carb days to 1 high carb day. The reason why this can be so effective is that by raising your calories every 4th day you actually help restore your metabolism-regulating and anti starvation hormone levels closer to normal. Carb cycling works great but there has to be a calorie deficit or else you may not see the results you want. Keep in mind that you don’t want to be in calorie deficit too long because it puts stress on your body and slows down your metabolism as an adaptation to the restricted calories, hence the 3:1 ratio.
There are also psychological benefits to carb cycling. When you go on other diets that restrict food for a long period of time, mentally you become exhausted and crave the food you can’t have making binges more common than not. When you carb cycle you know that every few days your body will get more calories, and especially carbs…3 days is nothing! A possible benefit of carb cycling may also be the reason why some people put on lean mass while still in a calorie deficit. When you raise your calories every few days your body is no longer in a deficit and will use the extra calories towards muscle tissue for growth. Carbs are your bodies preferred source of fuel so your workouts will be more intense. The more intense your workouts are the more fat you burn and the more muscle you build.
One last note about carb cycling is that you need to account for the swings in body weight due to glycogen and water. After 3 days of low carbs you may have actually lost weight but after a re-feed day, your body composition has improved but you have gained total body weight due to glycogen and water from carbs. Don’t always rely on the scale to keep you motivated. The world of numbers is vast and grey and there are so many variables that go into the number you are “supposed” to weigh. It’s really more about inches and body fat loss in a percentage rather than in a number on the scale. If your clothes are fitting loosely and you have more energy, it doesn’t matter what the scale says.
Written by Lena Schellenberg, Crowfoot YMCA Strength and Conditioning Instructor
You may have been hearing about a diet that is becoming quite popular among cross-fit athletes, those wanting to increase their athletic performance and those suffering from celiac disease called the Paleo diet.
Also known as the Paleolithic, Caveman, Hunter-gatherer, or Stone-Age diet, Paleo is a diet that converts us back to our prehistoric ancestors and how they ate and lived. There has been scientific research and hundreds of studies done on this particular diet with little evidence to support many flaws in it. What makes the Paleo diet so beneficial is that it’s rich in fresh produce, tons of essential oils and fats, and meat (which is recommended to be grass fed). It is free from processed and packaged foods, refined sugar and salt, as well as many of the carbohydrates we view to be “healthy” but contain many toxins.
Foods to avoid on the Paleo diet include: rice, wheat, oats, potatoes, legumes, dairy, sugar and “fake” foods. The whole point of this diet is not to starve yourself but to eat when you are hungry, and eat the things that will TRULY keep you satiated throughout the day. Things like avocados, green leafy vegetables, root vegetable(excluding potatoes) and fattier cuts of meat will keep your blood sugar stable where as many carbohydrates, even complex, will cause a spike in your blood sugar to some degree.
How am I going to get enough fiber? Don’t you need carbs for energy? I thought whole wheat was good for you?
The fact of the matter is that in 80% of people today have gastrointestinal inflammation from wheat and even rice. Wheat and rice still had to be processed in order for us to eat them and they still have to be cooked in order for them not to be toxic to our system. After cooking even some toxins remain, hence why so many people react badly to them.
If you want to see further information on the Paleo diet, there are many published books written by reputable authors such as Robb Wolf, Loren Cordain and Art De Vany all talking about Paleo and varying approaches to the diet. It’s worth looking up if you suffer from conditions like acne, diabetes, obesity, MS, depression, autoimmune disease and many others.
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