Deleting Canada’s Food Guide

23 Feb
Canada's Food Guide - no longer the unquestionable truth.

Canada’s Food Guide – no longer the unquestionable truth.

Canada’s Food Guide has been taught as the undisputed true way to good health for decades. Nurses, physicians, and dieticians have all been taught this in their educational processes and they pass this information along to the public. As a nurse, I too am guilty of having preached this so called truth to people – with only the best of intentions.

The problem is, I don’t believe it. I never really did. Think about it – if you were to eat the amount and type of food the guide recomends, you would be eating an enormous amount of carbs! While filling up on carbs we are encouraged to eat only small amounts of meats and fats.

It is also flawed in that it doesn’t differentiate between fruits and vegetables – which are not nutritionally equivalent. We can eat plenty of low carb veggies – but fruits – being higher in sugar need to be consumed in moderation. Think of fruit as natures candy!

As Dr. William Davis explains in his book “Wheat Belly”, this is a recipe for disaster for anyone trying to lose that spare tire, or just maintain good cardiovascular health. His insightful explanations regarding how various foods are processed in our bodies confirmed for me, many of the the beliefs I had been developing over the years but just didn’t have a good explanation for.

This also provides a good explanation for why the Isagenix cleanse I recently undertook had such a good effect on me and many others I know. I have continued consuming fewer carbs and drinking protein shakes since the cleanse. Reducing wheat and other carbs and replacing them with protiens and essential fats made me feel and look better. It has even improved my ability to concentrate and has helped me feel emotionally better – happier.

Science writer Gary Taubes author of “Why We Get Fat”, and “Good Calories Bad Calories”, communicates a similar message.

Check out the Reader’s Digest version of his message:  http://garytaubes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/WWGF-Readers-Digest-feature-Feb-2011.pdf

So, while it feels a little blasphemous – I am removing my link to Canada’s food guide and will not be recommending it to friends and clients in the future.

My cleansing experience

12 Feb

Isagenix%209%20Day%20Cleanse%20SystemRecently, I did a cleanse regime which consisted of 11 days of following a specific diet and incorporating some Isagenix products into my diet.  The Isagenix products included protein shakes, cleanse juice and other vitamin rich supplements. 

I wasn’t really doing the cleanse for weight loss reasons, although many people do with great success.  My fiancé lost 14 pounds doing the 11 day (they call it a 9 day) cleanse with me – and he’s kept most of it off!  I was doing mine to cleanse toxins from my body.

I sustained a concussion in January of 2012 in a car accident.  While most people no longer suffer any concussion symptoms by three months post injury, my symptoms were stubbornly hanging on.  My friend thought the cleanse might help with the concussion symptoms.

In October of 2012, I was still having daily headaches with a feeling that my brain was swelling and trying to squish out through my ears.  I was still having dizziness and nausea at least weekly.  I still couldn’t do any vigorous exercise – which meant I was still not back to playing hockey or doing many of the other things I love to do.  I was also so tired that I was unable to return to work full time.  Finally I gave in to my friend’s urgings and decided to try the cleanse.  I started the 11 day process on Oct 29th.  I’m not going to lie, it was not easy.  On day 3 and 4 my caffeine withdrawal was hitting its peak.  I felt tired and grouchy and cried at the drop of a hat.  Sometimes I felt hungry.  Day five and six were better and by day 7 I felt really quite good.  By the end of the 11 days I really did feel fantastic!

Since doing the cleanse 3 months ago, I have had only 3 headaches – compared to daily and nearly continuous headaches before.  I’d say the cleanse was a huge success!  I feel better, I can think more clearly, and as an added bonus, I can fit into the pants that had been about 1 size too small for about the last six years.  I only lost 3 pounds – I really didn’t have much to lose – but I was able to tone up and look and feel better.

I went back to playing hockey a week after doing the cleanse, and it felt great, and no headache!  I am able to lift weights again too.  Before my cleanse, any strain at all made my brain feel like it was trying to come out through my ears.

I was skeptical going in to it, but my experience has definitely made a believer out of me!

 

Statins – Risk vs Benefit

27 Nov

In my professional role, I read a lot of medical research. A study I read about today opened with the statement that “Although it does appear that statins may increase the [chance] of diabetes in high-risk patients, this should not stop us from using these drugs, as this small risk is outweighed by the substantial reduction in cardiovascular events” (Statins: Diabetes risk outweighed by CV benefit November 16, 2012Sue Hughes, theheart.org).

As I read this it occurred to me that a great many research reviews open with a similar statement of benefit versus risk.  In this case, you might develop diabetes if you use this drug, but you’re less likely to suffer a cardiovascular illness.

For me this seems a little ridiculous!  One of the biggest risk factors for declining cardiovascular health is diabetes!  And what makes this rediculous for me is the fact that many people could control cholesterol levels without medication!

Statins are drugs used to decrease cholesterol levels.  High levels of the wrong kind of cholesterol are associated with cardiovascular disease.  Lipitor is one of the most common statins being used today.

While it is true that there are some people who are cursed with a higher cholesterol level no matter what they do, for the majority of us, we can control our levels without medication.

Eating a balanced diet including vegetables, fish, legumes, whole grains, and fruits, and getting at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 5 times a week can do for many people what statins can do – and more, all while avoiding side effects (risk of diabetes, muscle cramps, liver damage, digestive problems, etc…)

While you’re eating healthy and exercising, you not only lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, but you will also be able to achieve and maintain a healthier weight, improve fitness and appearance.  You will probably find your energy levels will increase as well.

Medications may seem like the quick and easy fix, but they rarely come without risk.  Why not take the low risk – high benefit route of living simply well?

For more info:

http://health.usnews.com/health-conditions/heart-health/lowering-ldl-cholesterol

Eliminate Excuses

24 Oct

Devil

Sitting on the couch in my pj’s or sweats on a lazy Saturday I think to myself, “I should go outside for a walk, the weather is great”.  But then that little devil on the other shoulder pipes up as says, “You can’t go outside looking like that!  What if someone sees you?”

There was a time when that little devil would usually win the arguement.  I would just stay home and continue being lazy because I didn’t feel like fixing my hair or putting on makeup etc.

I have recently decided that I’ve had enough of that little devil standing in the way of me being more active and spending more time outdoors.

If you want to make sure your little devil is not stopping you from doing what you know is best for you, you have to outsmart him.  You first need to anticipate what kind of excuses he will make.  The next step is to make a plan to eliminate the excuses.

Since the excuse that was usually most troubling for me was the - can’t go out looking ugly – excuse, I had to find ways around it.  Some days, even on lazy days, I just get myself ready first thing in the morning as if I plan to go out somewhere.  That way, no matter what I end up doing I will be ready for it.  But lets face it, there are some days when you just don’t feel like fixing yourself up.  I especially don’t want to fuss over my hair if I want to go jogging since I will probably need a shower when I’m done anyway.

So the excuse buster that works for me is my hat and sunglasses.  A hat will hide even the worst bad hair day, and the sunglasses are good for hiding the fact that I have no make-up on.  Now, I have no excuse.  When I think “I should go out for a walk” I just do it.

We all make excuses to try to get out of doing something we just don’t feel like doing.  Figure out what your common excuses are, and then find a way to sabotage them!

Don’t let that little devil win.  He doesn’t have your best interest at heart.

What is your best excuse buster??

Choose your friends wisely – your wellness depends on it

14 Oct
Cover of "Connected: The Surprising Power...

Cover via Amazon

The people you’re spending time with will absolutely have an impact on your wellness.  If you’re spending a lot of time with people who are making poor lifestyle choices, it will have some influence on you.  If you’re anything like me, you often think “I really should get more exercise” or “I should stop watching so much TV” or – insert your own example here.

If you want to be more active and watch less TV, hang around with people who are doing this.  It seems like a pretty obvious solution, but sometimes we can get into a rut.  Call a neighbor and see if they want to go for a walk.  If you have a friend who tends to be the active type, give them a call, plan to get together.  Sometimes even just hearing them talk about thier life and all its activities will be enough to inspire you.  Maybe you can make plans to join them on one of their next adventures.

What do you do if you don’t really have any active friends?    Consider joining a class or a team.  It’s a great way to get active and make new friends at the same time.

Friends affect other aspects of our lives as well.  How we eat is another good example.  If your friends like to focus a large amount of thier social time on going out to eat, it can be a challenge to keep your food choices and portions in the healthy range.

If your friends are smokers, you are more likely to become a smoker – or be subjected to second hand smoke.

Dr. Christakis and Dr. Fowler have written a book all about the effects of our social network and how it affects the person we are.

Dr. Christakis and Dr. Fowler discovered that if your friend’s friend’s friend starts gaining weight or takes up smoking, you’re more likely to do the same.
You might be thinking – “I’m an adult and I make up my own mind about things.”  While that may be true, the fact remains that our thoughts and feelings about things are influenced by the things and people we see all around us.  By Surrounding yourself with positive people, you are improving the quality of the influence.  Better influence = better decisions.

Normal weight obesity and cardiovascular risk

10 Oct
English: "Love handles" are made up ...

English: “Love handles” are made up of excess fat around hips. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new study from the Mayo clinic has shown a strong correlation between normal weight obesity and increased risk of illness or death from cardiovascular problems.  Surprisingly, they even found that the normal weight obesity posed an even higher risk than generalized obesity.

What?  How can someone be normal weight and obese at the same time?

There are a couple ways of defining it.  In this particular study researchers defined normal weight obesity as having an increased waist to hip ratio – in other words, the people had a large belly but were relatively thin otherwise.  Others have defined normal weight obesity as a situation in which your percentage of body fat is increased, as in a person with little muscle mass but increased fat tissue, although their weight is still within normal limits.

Another surprising finding is that people whose weight puts them in the obese category may not be at increased risk if they carry the majority of their fat tissue in their legs and hips.  They even said this may have a protective effect.

The Heart & Stroke Foundation has published healthy waist circumference guidelines.  You are at increased cardiovascular risk if your waist measures larger than:

80 centimetres or 31.5” (Chinese & South Asian women)

89 centimetres or 35” (Women & Chinese/South Asian men)

101 centimetres or 40” (men)

So, what should you do to reduce your risk?

  1. Keep active!  The more active you are the more calories you burn and therefore the less you are likely to weigh overall.  If you incorporate some muscle building activity into your routine you will be even better off since research has found increased muscle tissue has a beneficial effect on your cardiovascular health.  You can build muscle by doing exercises that include some form of resistance.  Some examples are lifting weights or using elastic exercise bands.  Using your own body as resistance works too, like when you do push-ups for example.  Doing some serious yard or house work can give you a work out too.
  2. Eat sensibly!  Include protein, vegetables, fruits and whole grains in your diet daily.  A little bit of fat is good too, but too much fat and the wrong kinds of fat can be a problem.  Highly processed foods and sugars should be avoided.  One easy way to make sure you’re choosing healthy foods at the grocery store is by shopping the perimeter of the store.  Most grocery stores are arranged so the fresh fruits, veggies, milk/dairy, meats and fish are on the perimeter with the more processed foods in the centre aisles of the store.  One rule of thumb that I often turn to is – if my Great Grandmother would not recognize the ingredients on a food package, I should probably avoid it, or at least limit its use.

Another thing to keep in mind – the experts agree you really can’t spot reduce.  You can’t get rid of the fat on your belly just by doing lots of crunches.  You need to keep working towards a healthy weight, waist circumference, and muscle to fat ratio by staying on track with your diet & exercise in a general way.

Don’t wait for Thanksgiving to give thanks

8 Oct
Gray wolf

Gray wolf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You may have heard this well known legend before:

A Cherokee elder was teaching his children about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to them. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandchildren thought about it and after a minute one of them asked, “Which wolf will win?”

The elder simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I believe this to be true.  That’s why it’s important to spend time thinking about the good things, those things that you are thankful for.  Spending time thinking or talking about these positives is like feeding them.  The more you dwell on wonderful things, the more wonderful things you will find.

Thanksgiving is a time when we are reminded to practice this gratefulness – but thanksgiving only comes around once a year – don’t wait for that one day to feed the good wolf.

 

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