This week's guest blog is brought to you by nutritionist Amy Longard. Amy is a registered Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Food Chef in Ottawa and she's got some great tips for those looking to improve their diet this year.
The new year is a great time to start anew. It’s an opportunity to drop habits that don’t promote good health and happiness, and replace them with better, healthier habits. As a nutritionist, I don’t usually encourage my clients to make drastic changes. Instead, I support the notion of adopting small dietary and lifestyle changes over time. I’ve found that this method tends to be the most successful and increases the likelihood that these changes will be long-lasting, and will ultimately lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Even tiny adjustments can have huge impacts on our health. Big change doesn’t happen over night. It’s the result of many small changes practiced daily, again and again, until they become habits. Below, I’ll share a few surprisingly simple things that will have profound impact on your health and wellbeing.
Stay Hydrated. Water is vital to our health. We literally cannot live without it. It supports good digestion, absorption, and elimination. However, despite being a necessity, the simple act of drinking water throughout the day is often overlooked. It is recommends that men consume roughly 13 cups (3 litres) of water per day, and that women consume approximately 9 cups (2.2 litres) per day. A good way to reach this goal is to start your day with a big glass of water. Have the water ready and waiting on your bedside table so that it’s the first thing you see when you wake up. I suggest you also take a water bottle with you everywhere you go and if you have trouble remembering to drink water you may also want to set a timer on your phone to remind you.
Eat More Vegetables. Vegetables provide dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They also add colour, variety, texture, and taste to meals. Like drinking water, eating vegetables should be a priority, but without proper planning it can be easily overlooked. Allotting a few hours, one or two days per week, to meal prep can play a big role in upping your vegetable intake. An easy first step would be to clean, chop and store vegetables in your fridge for easy access. Get in the habit of cutting up carrots, celery, cucumber, radishes, and broccoli to have with hummus. You should also have ready-to-eat leafy greens, like spinach, kale, or arugula, in your fridge to add into smoothies, salads, stews, soups or stir fry. If you aren’t already in the habit of making vegetable rich meals, challenge yourself to try one new vegetarian dish each week with the goal of expanding your culinary skills as well as your palate.
Chew Your Food. Chewing is a fundamental part of eating, and it is also crucially important in terms of nutrition. Our saliva contains digestive enzymes that help breakdown and absorb the foods we eat. Thoroughly chewing your food will allow these enzymes to do their job and will also lessen the burden on your stomach and small intestine, leading to greater nutrient absorption. As an added bonus, research shows that eating slowly can help you to eat less and, ultimately, prevents weight gain and may even contribute to weight loss. When you sit down for your next meal, start by taking small bites, chew slowly, be patient, and enjoy what you are eating. Keep chewing until your food has lost its texture and is mostly liquefied. Make sure to completely finish chewing and swallowing before taking another bite of food. This may sound tedious or trivial, but give it a try! Your digestive tract will thank you.
Amy Longard is a registered Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Food Chef. For recipes, nutrition tips, and general health information, visit her blog at: www.AmyLongard.com
I recently found out that I’ve been nominated for the Leadership in Health Award under the Think Well Category. I am honoured and appreciative. If you feel that I am deserving of this award, please vote here. Scroll down and click on “Vote Now”.
Thank you so much,
Now, on to this week’s blog:
Making Habits Stick
A patient of mine asked me how I get up so early (5am) to meditate and then go to the gym. My response was that I created habits. I performed what I wanted over and over again until it became ingrained into my body to do it.
Was it hard initially?….of course! Who actually enjoys waking up that early? Not me at first. Over time, I started to appreciate the quiet time while I was meditating and my drive to the gym when no other cars are out. I started to take joy in getting my workout done early. I stacked the positive things until my body was looking forward to getting up.
Here are some tips to help you create and stick to your habits. Remember that it may be a challenge at first but it does get easier.
This week's blog is brought to you by our new nutritionist here at Hampton Wellness Centre.
Now that it’s the New Year and you’ve decided to get in shape, do you understand how your metabolism really works? Dieting can actually reduce your metabolic function, putting a damper on your weight loss. So before you decide to cut calories, here are a few things you should consider.
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the energy your body uses at rest. That energy goes toward liver function, heartbeat, breathing, and cell regeneration, among other things. When you reduce your caloric intake, your body starts to reduce its efficiency at carrying out these functions. Your liver stops clearing toxins at the same rate, your breathing and heartbeat slow down, and your cells don’t get to regenerate as well as they should.
Your muscle content also influence your body's metabolism. It uses up more energy than other cells, and it stores glycogen, a stock of sugar. As you eat sugar, your body looks to take excess amounts out of your blood. If your glycogen stores aren’t full, your body directs that sugar to your muscles and liver. When those stores are full, excess sugar gets taken up into fat cells. Caloric reduction will burn some fat, but it will also dip into your muscles.
Increasingly, excess weight is being seen as a symptom of imbalances in the body, rather than the actual issue. When you cut calories and reduce your body’s abilities to remove excess toxins and regenerate cells, you create imbalances in the body. As you lose muscle, you also reduce the potential for glycogen storage, resulting in more excess sugar being stored in fat cells.
Rather than focusing on counting calories for weight loss, I like to direct the attention to the foods that are being consumed. Instead of looking for foods with a list of ingredients, I encourage you to look for the actual ingredients in their least modified form. Foods contain the most nutrients when they’re fresh. Nutrients are important for the production of hormones and enzymes which will help you lose weight. If you want to start the year off well, start by treating your body well!
Christina Najjar is Hampton Wellness Centre's Registered Holistic Nutritionist. She has recently graduated from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition with Honours and holds the highest standing in her class. Christina believes that proper nutrition is a big component of well-being, since we are what we eat, but more importantly, what our body absorbs. If you have any questions about your health or about Holistic Nutrition, Christina offers 15 minute complimentary consultations.
I love this time of year. For me, it’s an opportunity to look at my goals from last year and last quarter and reflect on what I accomplished, what I didn’t get to and how I can improve on my ultimate goal in living a passion and purpose filled life.
Below, is part of the process I use in creating new goals. I am also doing a workshop called “New Year, New You” on Monday, January 18 if you want to complete this process in person.
For this example, we will take the health category. Other categories include finances and wealth, relationships, business, contribution, spirituality, etc.
Step 1: Where are you now. Take a real evaluation of where you are right now. From here, we can decide where we want to be.
Step 2: Figure out what you want.
Most people are better at knowing that they don’t want than what they want. So, we start writing down what we don’t want i.e. I don’t want to be fat, I don’t want to be weak, etc. After we’ve made a list, we cross out what we don’t want and beside it, write down what we would like.
i.e. I don’t want to be fat = I want to be fit
I don’t want to be weak= I want to be strong.
Step 3: At the end, you will have a list of health declarations for you to read. Repeat these health declarations for 30 days so your words can seep into your unconscious mind.
Step 4: Breathing exercise. This exercise was designed by Dr. Epstein and comes from the book the 12 Stages of Healing. Stage 4 involves saying enough of this! Taking your power back and knowing that you deserve so much more than this in your life. We will be doing this at the workshop.
Step 5: 30 Health Challenge Commitment
Look over your list and see if there’s a pattern. From there, choose an action that you can do for 30 days to get you closer to your goal.
i.e. 30 Days of Exercise
30 Diet Modification Program
30 Days of Meditation
Step 6: Grab an accountability partner and get to work. Having someone to check in with will help you keep stay on track.
Step 7: Celebrate! Remember to have fun and celebrate any achievement that you do.
Dr. Amanda is a non-traditional chiropractor who focuses on Neuro-Optimization in Ottawa, Canada.