These ribs have got to be the BEST ribs I've ever made - they fall off the bone and are absolutely delicious! One of the greatest things about this recipe is that it contains NO store bought BBQ sauce or ketchup (which we all know - many brands contain a lot of added sugar or even worse - high fructose corn syrup). Throw these in your slow cooker this weekend - you will not be disappointed!
Did you know that in 2013, an estimated 3 million Canadians (that is a whopping 11.6%) aged 18 years and older reported having an anxiety or mood disorder?
Did you also know that you can help combat anxiety and depression using changes to your diet and lifestyle?
In order to make this topic a little more manageable, I have broken it up into "part 1" and "part 2". Today in Part 1 we will go through some of the most important nutrients needed to fight anxiety and depression then in Part 2 we will discuss foods that can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety and how we can help reduce these feelings using diet and lifestyle.
This amino acid became famous for it’s presence in turkey and has gotten all of the blame for the "post-turkey coma" experienced after most major holiday dinners.
Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that helps us feel calm.
There are many foods high in tryptophan, including:
However, there is some debate as to whether or not tryptophan is able to cross the blood-brain barrier (tryptophan must compete with other amino acids in the body for absorption into the brain). Luckily, we can help to increase the amount of tryptophan absorbed by eating foods rich in tryptophan with foods containing complex carbohydrates.
What would this look like? This could be turkey or salmon served with a side of roasted sweet potato (complex carbohydrate) or nuts and seeds served as a snack with a side of fruit (complex carbohydrate). When we consume carbohydrates our pancreas produces insulin. Insulin is our storage hormone and it allows amino acids to be absorbed into the muscles and other areas of the body. This leaves tryptophan (another amino acid) behind in the “amino acid pool”, making it more likely that it will be absorbed across the blood-brain barrier.
In Summary: Pair foods rich in tryptophan with foods containing complex carbohydrates in order to get the maximum calming benefit.
Studies have demonstrated a relationship between B vitamins and mood. B vitamin deficiencies can trigger symptoms of depression in some individuals. I always recommend a food first approach, so see my post here for a list of foods rich in B vitamins.
We touched briefly on omega-3 fatty acids when we talked about inflammation in the body last week but did you know that these fatty acids also enhance our mood? Some studies have shown that patients who took omega-3 fatty acid supplements in addition to their antidepressants improved more than those patients who did not take omega-3 supplements. We can find omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA – the useable form of this fat) in fatty fish such as salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, sardines, tuna and anchovies. Don’t get this confused with the omega-3 fats found in plant sources such as ground flaxseed, chia seeds and flaxseed oil (this type of omega-3 fat is called ALA). In order to get the same health benefits we receive when we eat fatty fish we must convert the ALA into the useable form DHA and EPA. Don’t be fooled though, the conversion rate in a healthy individual is less than 5%. In conclusion, I don’t recommend relying on plant sources of omega-3 as the only source of omega-3 fats in your diet. If you are vegan and refuse to consume a fish-based supplement, I recommend NutraVege, an omega-3 supplement derived from the echium plant and algae.
Norepinephrine and dopamine are neurotransmitters that carry impulses between nerve cells. Higher levels of these neurotransmitters have been shown to improve mental energy and alterness. Protein in our diet helps to stimulate the production of norepinephrine and dopamine. See this post on hormones and brain chemicals and their affect on our weight.
As we've discussed earlier, serotonin is our calming "feel good" chemical. Did you know that most of the serotonin we have in our body is actually produced in the gut? In order to get the maximum serotonin production within the gut, it must be healthy. Hippocrates said "All disease begins in the gut" and is that ever true. Not only our physical health but our mental health is impacted by the state of our gut.
We will discuss probiotic benefits in detail in a future post, however we must touch on them today when discussing using food as medicine for treating depression and anxiety. Research in the area of the gut microbiome (the good gut bugs in our large intestine) is exploding and we are learning more and more about the incredible benefits of hosting a robust population of good gut bacteria.
Researchers working with mice have determined that by disrupting the normal bacterial content of the gut by introducing antibiotics, changes in the mice behaviour occurs with the mice becoming anxious. Along with this change in behaviour, there was also an increase in Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which has been linked to anxiety and drepression (1).
Some of my favourite ways to incorporate probiotics into my diet is through food. My absolute favourite way is through drinking a fermented coconut water called Kevita. This retails for $3.99-5.99 and we can now get it at our major supermarket (hello mainstream). I recommend drinking 1/2 of a bottle at one time and ensuring it is always refrigerated. To get a variety of strains of probiotics, kefir, raw sauerkraut and fermented pickles are all great sources as well!
This is the obvious one. Antibiotics are used to kill harmful bacteria in the body but they often wipe out some of our good bacteria as well. After a course of antibiotics it is critical that you adopt a probiotic regimen for at least 2 weeks following the last dose of antibiotic.
Stress levels can negatively impact the population of our good gut bacteria as well. This stress does not have to be mental stress alone. Stress could also stem from lack of sleep, poor nutrition or too much exercise. The gut/brain connection is a two-way street: the gut can impact the brain and the brain can impact the gut. This connection has been demonstrated time and time again in our rodent friends (2).
This one may come as a shocker since most women are or have been on birth control pills at some point in their lives. Taking these "innocent" little pills can also alter the population of good gut bacteria in our digestive tract.
Believe it or not, foods containing processed sugars can lead to imbalances between the good and bad gut bacteria we have. These processed sugars feed the “bad” bacteria and starve the good (vegetables rich in prebiotics – think: garlic, onion, asparagus) feed our good bacteria. When we include these processed sugar-containg foods in our diet more frequently we put ourselves at risk of developing an imbalance in bad versus good bacteria (called gut dysbiosis).
That concludes Part 1 of this topic. Please tune in for Part 2 coming later this week where we will talk about foods to eliminate or reduce to help decrease anxiety/depression and diet and lifestyle changes we can make to help us feel better.
If you find this information useful please share this site with your family and friends. It is through organic means that I hope to grow my followers and you, my readers, are my biggest helpers in this!
Thanks so much for tuning in guys!
Yours in Health,
A: This is such a great question and one that is getting more and more media attention.
Dairy does not agree with everyone (lactose, whey or casein sensitivities are common) but for those of you who enjoy a serving or two of dairy every day, what should you be choosing? We’ve heard for so long that cutting fat from dairy products is the way to a slimmer waistline and better overall health but is this necessarily the truth? We’ve also heard that the saturated fat in dairy products is going to clog our arteries and lead to the development of heart disease. Regardless of what we've heard, at this point in time the evidence suggests that saturated fat has a neutral effect on heart health.
Research is continuing to emerge regarding the importance of consuming full-fat dairy products over its non-fat counterparts.
First let’s look at the facts from recent studies (I won’t bore you with the details – we’ll just summarize):
So how can this be? If it’s the equation of calories in versus calories out that dictates our weight, shouldn’t we cut the calories from dairy products by reducing the amount of fat in the product (fat contains 9 calories per gram, so reducing fat from a food can reduce its calories significantly)? If you remember from my post last week, calorie counting is not always the solution.
At this point there is not a definite reason as to why this link between high-fat dairy consumption and reduced risk of obesity exists – some researchers hypothesize that it is the satiety factor of fat (meaning it helps to keep us fuller longer) and therefore we don’t feel the need to consume an excessive amount of food. Another hypothesis relates to the effect the fatty acids in dairy products have on our hormones and gene expression, which alters the amount of energy our bodies burn and store.
We often hear recommendations to go with a full-fat variety over a fat-free variety due to the sugar that can be added to low-fat products to make them more palatable, however this is not the case with milk or cheese. Both the full-fat and low-fat products contain the same number of grams of sugar per serving. The only true difference between the two is the fat content. Contrary, if we were to compare full-fat versus low-fat ice cream, we would likely see a difference in the sugar content per serving, with the low-fat version containing more grams of sugar per serving than the full-fat variety. Always be sure to take a look at the nutrition facts panel and the ingredient list when determining how much added sugar a product contains.
I want to touch on one important point before we finish our discussion today. I want you to keep in mind that the research studies conducted on high-fat dairy products and obesity or weight gain are observational studies rather than randomized controlled trials (the gold standard). This means that we are unable to say that low-fat dairy consumption causes weight gain or that high-fat dairy consumption prevents weight gain. From this research we can only conclude that consumption of high-fat dairy is associated with reduced risk of obesity or weight gain. Although researchers do their best to remove all other variables that may impact this relationship, we are still unable to conclude a cause/effect relationship between the high-fat dairy and obesity risk.
Recommendations: If dairy products agree with you I recommend going with the full-fat variety and simply watching the number of servings you consume in a day.
Thank you for submitting your question! If you have a question that you'd like answered, please submit a question here.
Yours in Health,
This recipe is a potluck go to. The recipe is easy and it makes a large batch so it's great for feeding a crowd. I used peanut butter in this recipe but you can use almond butter or sunflower seed butter for a slightly different taste. The only recommendation I make: please don't substitute the red pepper with green pepper - the red pepper gives the salad a sweetness that is just right!
A quarter of a cup of uncooked quinoa contains approximately 6 grams of protein - making this whole batch clock in at 24 grams. I recommend my clients aim for 25-30 grams of protein at a meal so you will have to add an additional protein source to this recipe (both chicken and chickpeas work great).
When you're looking for a decadent dessert to prepare for your next dinner party I suggest giving this pudding a try! Feel free to spice this pudding up however you'd like - adding nuts, coconut or dark chocolate chips for a simple twist. This pudding is fantastic because it contains NO refined sugar and contains lots of healthy fats from the avocado and nut butter. This treat will keep you satisfied much longer than the traditional sugar-laden chocolate pudding. Enjoy!
I am going to keep todays post very short! I share many videos with my clients to watch in between our sessions for discussion the following week. Over the next few months I want to share some of these videos with you guys too!
This post ties in with the discussion of mindful eating we had last week (see here and here). I hear the question so often "how many calories does that have?" and I think we need to shift our focus away from counting calories and seeing food as numbers. Anyone with an extensive history of counting calories will tell you that not only is it exhausting and unsustainable but it also causes a change in the way we view our food. Instead of looking at an egg as a protein source containing B vitamins and healthy fats, instead we see 70 calories. At this point in the thought process it would seem like a logical idea to instead have just an egg white instead of the whole egg. This is a terrible idea, as we would be missing out on so many vitamins and healthy fat that is in the yolk. I discourage calorie counting with my clients and instead we focus on portion sizes, balanced meals and mindful eating.
I would be lying to you if I said that calories DON'T matter at all. However, do we put too much emphasis on their importance? I think so.
This is a great meatloaf that you can prepare this weekend to have for lunches all week! This recipe is versatile - add any other vegetables you'd like. I've kept it simple with some carrots but spice things up with some leafy greens or whatever vegetables you have in your fridge! For all of you allergy or food sensitivity sufferers out there, have no fear - this recipe is dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free and gluten-free 🙂
On Tuesday we talked about the types of hunger and the first 3 tips for eating mindfully. Today we will continue the discussion and finish with the remaining 5 tips. If you remember from Part 1, eating mindfully does not have to be a complex concept and simply by taking the time to focus on our hunger levels and what we're eating we can really begin to understand the whole eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full concept.
We’ve all seen those comparison shots of plate sizes from the 1950s versus plate sizes now (but just incase you haven't, see here). We know that portion sizes in both restaurants and at home have gotten much bigger in the past 50 years but did you know that by eating on smaller dishes we can actually feel just as full even if we're eating less? I challenge you to eat your main meals off of lunch-sized plates rather than the oversized dinner plates. The psychological impact of looking at a plate that appears fuller will make us feel more satisfied than eating the same amount of food on an oversized plate.
Eating from a box or a bag is a definite no-no if we are trying to eat mindfully. When we eat from a box or a bag we have no concept of how much we are truly eating and often will continue to eat until the box or bag is empty. I recommend putting a serving of the food you're eating onto a plate or into a bowl and return the package to the fridge or pantry before you begin eating. Don't leave the bag or package on the counter either - it is too accessible. There is a lot of thought that has to go into getting up from the table (where you should be eating) and getting the bag back out again. Within this time frame you will have more opportunity to ask yourself if you're truly hungry.
Next time you’re eating a meal, make a conscious effort to put down your fork or spoon between each bite. By actively putting down your spoon or fork you are forced to slow down. It’s true that it takes approximately 20 minutes for our bodies to recognize that we are feeling satisfied from the food we’re eating so by increasing the amount of time it takes for us to finish our meal we are less likely to go back for a second helping of dinner or indulge in a sweet treat after our meal.
This is a trap that so many of us fall into. We fill our plate or are served food and we feel satisfied before the food is gone however we continue to eat until our plate is cleaned. Even if we know we have eaten enough food we will continue to eat until all of the food put in front of us is gone. In order to get away from this bad habit, that most of the time was developed at a young age, we need to become okay with packing food up for a later time. This even applies to the three leftover bites that we know we didn’t need. Give yourself permission to be finished eating even if you have food remaining on your plate. I hear this a lot from my clients regarding leftover holiday treats/birthday cake/Halloween candy/etc. They will have leftover Christmas cookies made by a loved one that are full of processed sugar and they refuse to throw them away because it is "wasteful". We need to think of this - foods that provide us with no real nutritional benefit are garbage if it goes into our mouths and garbage if it goes into the garbage can. You would be doing starving children a disservice by feeding them sugar-filled processed foods - so why should we keep them sitting on our counter tempting us for the next month?
How many times do you chew your food before swallowing? Crazy question, right? What if you thought about the number of times you chew before swallowing at each meal? This will force you to slow down and will also help with the digestive process. Remember, digestion starts in the mouth and chewing your food well will allow your body to extract more nutrients from your food and will also make it less likely that you will experience cramps, bloating or indigestion from a meal. Not only will chewing your food more be better for digestion but we also have to remember that our taste buds are located in our mouth, so it is when we are chewing that we get to experience the wonderful flavor that our food provides us with. I recommend shooting for chewing food as close to 30 times as you possibly can.
This rounds up the 8 tips for increasing mindfulness while you're eating. Select one or more of the above tips and give them a try this week. Did you notice a difference? Leave your comments or questions below 🙂
Yours in Health,
*Note: If you feel like you would benefit a program targeted at understanding why you crave the foods you do, check out a Craving Change™ facilitator near you.
What if I told you that the feeling that prompts us to walk into the kitchen and open the fridge or pantry is caused by different types of hunger? So often we think of hunger as being one feeling – that gnawing sensation we experience in the morning after our nightly fast or the feeling we have when we get home from work in the afternoon and are anxiously awaiting dinner.
This week I challenge you to try this: next time you feel “hungry” take 10 seconds to stop and differentiate between which type of hunger you’re experiencing. An added perk to taking the time to think about your hunger is that often times we will realize that we do not actually require food and that instead it is something non-food related that we are craving.
Let’s start by going through the three types of hunger that we experience.
When we think “hunger” this type of hunger is often what comes to mind. This is the hunger that we experience when it has been a long period of time, usually 5-6 hours, since we’ve last consumed food. Quite often when we experience stomach hunger our stomach begins to growl. At this time our bodies require food in order to function optimally.
The concept of mouth hunger is probably new to most. An accurate depiction of mouth hunger would be when we crave a food for it’s particular mouth feel or taste. Have you ever craved chips because you’re wanting the crispy crunch and salt? Or craved ice cream for that smooth, cold sensation you get in your mouth? Anytime we eat because we know a food will taste good we are eating because of mouth hunger.
Heart hunger refers to eating because we are experiencing a particular emotion or because of a learned behaviour. This could be indulging in a decadent food after a stressful day at work or needing to have some sort of dessert after a meal.
One of the best ways to determine why we’re eating is to make sure that we are being mindful when we eat. My clients tease me about how often I suggest that they be mindful when eating out, at a party or on vacation. Being mindful is easy to say but what exactly does it mean? What do we do to actually be mindful when we’re eating?
When I say mindful eating it sounds like some spiritual hocus-pocus where you eat in the dark with candles and incense. However, increasing your mindfulness can make a huge difference in how many unnecessary calories you consume in a day.
Below I’ve outlined my top 8 tips for increasing your mindfulness when eating (because this post got a little long, we will break it up to make it a little more manageable). If you begin implementing these strategies into your daily life you may even find that a few of those pesky pounds effortlessly slip away. It is truly amazing how often or what we choose to eat is due to simply being on autopilot during meals or snacks.
The first thing I suggest doing when you feel prompted to open the fridge or pantry for something to eat is to consider the three types of hunger we discussed earlier. Are you eating because you’re bored? Are you eating because you know there is tasty food in the house? Or are you eating because your stomach is growling and your energy is low? Determining why you’re deciding to eat is the first step in being more mindful.
Are we ever really eating anything nutritious when we are standing alone in the pantry with the lights off? I encourage my clients only to eat when they are seated at a table (the driver’s seat of a car does not count). Sitting at a table while we are eating forces us to focus much more closely on what we are actually eating, allowing us to better connect with how satisfied we feel.
Distractions can be your phone, television, computer or even the newspaper, a book or a magazine. I’m sure most of us have experienced a time when we’ve been watching a movie or TV show and eating something, whether it’s a bowl of popcorn (which can be a good snack – see here) or a bowl of grapes, and all of a sudden we reach down and the bowl is empty. Typically when this happens we still have that “hungry” feeling (normally it is mouth hunger) because we don’t really remember eating what was in the bowl because we were so focused on something else.
Later this week we will talk about the other 5 tips but for now, I recommend working on implementing these 3 🙂
Yours in Health,
*Note: If you feel like you would benefit a program targeted at understanding why you crave the foods you do, check out a Craving Change™ facilitator near you.
Do you find yourself bored of the same old snacks everyday? Do you find yourself reaching for the candy dish or hitting up the vending machine just for some variety? Does your lonely snack of just an apple leave you hungrier than you were before your snack? This may sound like an infomercial but I have some great options for you!
Below I’ve outlined some tasty alternatives for traditional snack foods that are sure to spice up your day and get you excited about your snacks again. These snacks not only have great flavour but they contain a perfect balance of macronutrients (read more about balancing your blood sugar through snacks here). All of these snacks take minimal time to assemble and by preparing several of these recipes ahead of time you will be sure to stick to your nutrition plan this week (remember - it's when we allow ourselves to get too hungry or our blood sugar levels get too low that we don't make the best nutrition choices)!
During the winter months getting enough zinc is important in helping to boost our immune system. Try this recipe to get a great source of zinc and a hit of protein at snack time.
1 cup of pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of curry powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Preheat oven to 300F.
Coat pumpkin seeds with oil then toss with curry powder and salt.
Roast seeds on a baking sheet for 20 minutes.
I recommend a 1 ounce serving of pumpkin seeds served with 1 apple.
1/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1 tablespoon of coconut oil or butter (for popping on the stove) - omit if you have an air popper
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds (optional)
Pop kernels in a stock pot over the stove with coconut oil/butter.
Once popped, remove from stock pot and toss popcorn with sesame oil and sesame seeds.
I recommend using a stockpot and some coconut oil or butter on the stove to make popcorn. Check out this YouTube video to guide you through making your own popcorn at home.
Health tip: I recommend avoiding the store bought microwave popcorn (even SmartPop or one of those “healthier” varieties). The lining of those microwave popcorn bags (perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as C8) is made of the same ingredients used in Teflon pans.
As stated by Dr. Andrew Weil
In June 2005, a scientific advisory panel to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified PFOA as a "likely carcinogen" but drew no conclusions as to whether products made with it pose a cancer risk to humans. However, animal studies have identified four types of tumors in rats and mice exposed to PFOA.
While scientific studies have not established a link between microwave popcorn bags and other products containing trace amounts of PFOA to increases in cancer in humans, the chemical has been shown to cause cancer and birth defects in animals, and it is so pervasive that it's detectable in the blood of 95 percent of Americans.
½ cup chia seeds
2 cup almond milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp raisins
Combine all ingredients into 4 - 4 ounce or 8 ounce mason jars (or small glass storage containers)
Stir well and let sit overnight.
Leave jars in the fridge for quick grab-and-go snacks for the week.
1/4 cup of unsalted almonds
1 ounce of dark chocolate (70-80 percent cocoa), melted in microwave or double boiler
1/2 tablespoon of dried cranberries or cherries
1/8 teaspoon of Himalayan sea salt
In a bowl, mix together almonds and melted dark chocolate.
Drop mixture onto wax paper.
Refrigerate until set.
Recipe makes 1 serving.
I recommend tripling or quadrupling this recipe to make 3 or 4 servings at one time.
1 ripe avocado, cubed
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh berries
Place avocado in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Add the remaining ingredients except the berries.
Serve topped with fresh berries.
May be kept refrigerated for one day until needed. Recipe makes 2 servings.
Hopefully these recipes help to spice up your menu plan this week! Do you have other grab-and-go recipes that you love? Share them in the comments below!
Yours in Health,