By: Nicole Korodetz, MScA, RD.

Happy New Year! I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season, filled with quality family time, delicious food, and lots of relaxation. I’m sure that most of us (including myself) are still feeling a little sluggish after the holidays and trying to find the motivation to get back into an old or start a new healthy routine.

A new year means you have a blank 365-page book to fill. It is up to you what you want to write on those pages. Forget about the “new year new me” mentality; you’re already probably pretty great and don’t need to totally change the person that you are. Working out 7 times a week, drinking green smoothies all day, or giving up cake forever is certainly not realistic, or necessarily healthy. Rather, think about how you can make small changes to your current lifestyle that will allow you to be the healthiest and happiest version of yourself.

Here are my top 5 tips for starting 2017 on a healthy note:

Ditch the leftover holiday treats
Of course during the holidays it is okay, and even encouraged to indulge in your favourite festive treats. However, with the large amounts of food served at multiple events, it is likely that you’ve been enjoying these treats over the past couple of weeks. You’ve had your fix, and now it’s time to part ways with this food (despite the separation anxiety that may ensue). Not having this kind of food in your house will prevent the temptation to reach for it. Encourage your office to do the same if they are still offering treats in the lunchroom. To prevent waste, you can donate unopened packages to a local food bank.

Set SMART new year's resolutions
Very few people actually stick to their new year's resolutions. Why? Because they are usually overambitious and unrealistic with their expectations. This is why it is impossible to get a treadmill at the gym in January, but no problem in March. The key to setting goals that you’ll actually stick to is to make them SMART- specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Take your schedule, preferences, health, physical limitations, and readiness to change into account.

For example:
Not a SMART goal: I will eat more vegetables
SMART goal: I will eat 1 extra serving (1/2 cup or 1 cup leafy greens) of vegetables at dinner, 5 times a week, beginning on Monday.

By making a goal SMART, you have a clear direction of how and when you will accomplish that goal, with a measurable outcome.

Forget fad diets/cleanses/quick fixes
Maybe you are carrying a little extra holiday weight or feel like you haven’t properly nourished your body in a while. The diet and supplement industry know this and use it to their advantage to push their products onto us, promising a “body reset”, “detoxification”, or “20 pound weight loss in 1 week”. The reality is, there is absolutely no quick fix that will simultaneously make you lose fat, tone your abs, clear your acne, reduce cravings, and make you look 10 years younger. A healthy kidney and liver is all you need to rid your body of “toxins”. In addition, fad diets and cleanses are only temporary ways of “eating” that leave most customers feeling hangry, void of energy, and running to the bathroom every few minutes. Whatever weight may be lost will very likely be put back on once you resume a regular diet. If you are the rare few that feel better when on a cleanse, it is likely because you have cut out processed foods, high in saturated fat, sodium, and refined sugar, and replaced it with lean protein and vegetables (i.e. following evidence-based nutrition recommendations).

What you can do is ensure that you’re eating wholesome, nutrient-dense, fresh foods, with a plant-based focus. I’m talking about fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, and legumes. By eating this way, I can almost guarantee that you’ll feel properly nourished, energetic, and overall well.

Meal prep
I love the quote “fail to plan, plan to fail”. It may sound harsh, but it couldn't be truer when it comes to meal planning and prepping. How many times have you left work hungry, sat in traffic while thinking about what the hell you’re going to make for dinner, arrived home to an empty fridge or are too tired and hungry to prepare something, and then order a pizza? I am even guilty of this, and am making it my intention for the new year to consistently (whenever possible) plan and prep my meals in advance. A few key tips to meal prepping:

  • Have multiple sizes of containers
  • Set aside a few hours on Sunday to choose your recipes, grocery shop, and prepare ingredients
  • Once you’ve chosen your recipes, compile a grocery list. Separate headings to correspond with the departments of the grocery store, so that you can shop in a logical and timely manner
  • Write out your sample menu and place it on your fridge. It is useful to make notes about defrosting, cooking times, equipment needed, marinating, etc.
  • Do all of your chopping in advance so that when it comes to making the meal, there is little prep time left
  • Choose recipes that you and your family will enjoy, use simple and in-season ingredients, and are appropriate for your skill level in the kitchen

Meal prepping takes time to master, and there is a lot more to learn. Registered Dietitians are your go-to source for learning about planning and preparing meals that suit your lifestyle, preferences, budget, and dietary restrictions!

Find your motivation
Having a specific motivation to adapt a new or stick to an old healthy lifestyle routine may increase your chances of success. Dig deep and ask yourself, why am I doing this? If you want to lose weight, is it to look good in your wedding dress, is it to have more energy during the day, or is it to help manage your knee pain? Whatever your motivation is, keep a visual of it in a visible place, so that you are constantly reminded of what you are working towards. If you skip your workout, order pizza for dinner, or have an extra cocktail at a party, don’t think that you’ve totally sabotaged your health journey. Things are always going to get in the way, or some days we just don’t feel like it. There is no straight path to the finish line, but rather swirly curves that show our downfalls and progress. Always remember what your main motivation is, get back on track, and strive to be your healthiest and happiest self.

I look forward to helping you all reach your health goals this year, whether it is through reading my blog, making my recipes, or booking an appointment with me. Wishing you all the best for your healthiest year yet!

By: Nicole Korodetz, Registered Dietitian

The holiday season is fully upon us and that means you have likely already attended a few parties, eaten a couple gingerbread cookies, and have been busy in the kitchen! Hosting a dinner or even preparing a potluck dish can be stressful having to accommodate every guest’s preferences and dietary restrictions. You want everyone to enjoy all of the dishes without making them feel dissatisfied, guilty, or worst of all, sick.

Here, I’ve listed some easy swaps for ingredients that may be used in your holiday recipes (or any time of the year) that are sure to please all of your guests. It is very possible to plan a menu that satisfies everyone, whether they are vegan, celiac, or on a weight loss program.

Healthier Ingredients:

  • Mashed banana for oil. Generally, you can replace half the amount of oil with a mashed banana. This will lower the calorie and fat content. It also provides natural sweetness so can help cut back on the added refined sugar.
  • 0-2% plain Greek yogurt for sour cream or mayonnaise. This adds some protein and calcium while decreasing the fat content but maintaining the creaminess.
  • Potato for cream. Try thickening soups with a potato instead of cream to cut back on fat and add some vitamins and minerals.
  • Use other flavouring agents instead of salt. Dried or fresh herbs and spices, lemon juice, vinegars, and oils add lots of flavour without the salt, which will help limit bloating, control thirst, and stabilize blood pressure. Watch out for seasonings that contain salt (Mrs. Dash is a good no-salt brand).

Vegan:

  • Offer a non-animal protein dish that incorporates beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, or tempeh. With various sauces, herbs, and spices, these dishes can be just as flavourful and satisfying.
  • Mushroom gravy for traditional gravy. It would be a shame to make mashed potatoes or vegetables off limits for vegans by dressing it with beef gravy. Mushrooms, nutritional yeast, and tamari make this gravy equally savoury and creamy.
  • Avocado for mayonnaise, sour cream or butter. A dairy-free alternative that provides a great source of vitamins, minerals, and monounsaturated fat (the good fat).
  • Offer nut, soy, or coconut milk for after dinner coffee, tea or hot chocolate. For recipes that call for cow's milk or cream, replace with one of these options.

Gluten-Free:

  • Flax seed for bread crumbs. If making meatballs, meat loaf, or breading chicken or vegetables, try using ground flax seed instead. You can add herbs and spices to the mix for flavour.
  • Gluten-free grains as side dishes. These include quinoa, rice, rice noodles, corn, buckwheat, millet, and certified gluten-free oats.
  • Gluten-free flours for baking: coconut, almond, certified GF oat, chickpea, rice, tapioca, cassava. Try this DIY blend to replace all purpose flour.
  • Spiralized vegetable noodles for pasta. Not only are they gluten free, they are more nutrient-dense, lower carb, and add colour compared to spaghetti. Best vegetables for spiralizing include zucchini, sweet potato, beets, cucumber, potato, and squash (the long, round vegetables).

Diabetic-Friendly:

  • Offer carbohydrates that are high in fibre and low on the glycemic index. Examples include: legumes (beans, peas, lentils), whole grains (barley, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, multigrain buns), sweet potato, and yams.
  • Cauliflower mash for mashed potatoes. Prepare mashed potatoes as you normally would, but using riced cauliflower instead of potatoes for a lower carb option.
  • Whole grain sprouted bread for stuffing. Skip the white bread, which is full of sugar and high on the glycemic index.
  • Mixed dishes. Pairing a carbohydrate (e.g. stuffing) with a lean protein (e.g. turkey or chicken breast) and healthy fat (e.g. walnuts, olive oil) helps to stabilize blood sugar.

Nut-Free:

  • Use seeds or seed butters in place of nuts or nut butters. Examples include pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, flax, chia, and pepitas.
  • Try using pretzels instead of nuts to provide that desired added crunch.
  • Roast and spice chickpeas or soybeans instead of nuts.

For someone that has a strict allergy or intolerance, cross-contamination from kitchen appliances, utensils, and other foods can be problematic. Take extra caution when preparing dishes and disclose all ingredients used to these guests.

I understand that you may not want to keep some of these ingredients in your house if you only need them for one occasion. Try buying them from bulk food stores, such as Bulk Barn. That way, you can grab only what you need to prevent waste and additional costs.

I hope that this provides some inspiration for making your holiday dishes friendly for various dietary restrictions. Happy cooking, happy eating, and happy holidays!

By: Aurelija Akelaitis, Homeopath

So it's that time of year again when we all reflect on the past years triumphs and failures (though I do not believe that any experience is ever truly a failure as we learn a lot from each of them) and set new goals for the new year. One of the top New Year goals revolves around making healthier choices by choosing to eat a more nutritious diet, getting more exercise or a combination of both. Physically cleansing your body and supporting healthy living is a great place to start but many do not consider a mental and emotional cleanse. Sometimes that's where we need to start...

How many times have you set a goal to eat better or work out more that does not happen or you are able to do it for a while then old habits creep back in? Too many to count for many of us. We are all juggling so much and sometimes these changes seem like one more thing on your list of things to do, one more responsibility. Does this sound familiar? If it does then I suggest you try a mental and emotional cleanse first.

Ask yourself what is holding you back? You have a goal to lead a healthier life but something keeps getting in your way. What is it? If trying to leading a healthier life causes stress and anxiety you will avoid it as much as possible whereas if you feel positive about the experience and celebrate each small victory like passing on the cookies after lunch you will feel more supported on the way to your goal. It requires a change in your perspective but sometimes it doesn't seem that easy. You may feel stuck in this negative pattern and may have a difficult time overcoming it. If so, homeopathy could be just what you need. It can help change your perspective and get you moving towards all of your goals.

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