By: Nicole Korodetz, MScA, RD.

We are just a few days away from Thanksgiving, one of the most food-coma-inducing holidays of the year. While I sit here salivating over the thought of gravy-soaked turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, and warm pumpkin pie, I am reminded of the feelings that I usually get after my Thanksgiving meal- bloated, lethargic, and wanting to undo my jean button. For those who have made great progress towards accomplishing your health goals, this weekend can be a set back. So how do we enjoy this festive meal without over-indulging to the point of feeling ill, while maintaining healthy eating habits? Here are a few tips:

1. Do not fast/restrict food throughout the day in preparation for a large meal

You may believe that by not eating prior to your grand meal, you will have a whole bank of calories left to consume a very large portion of food. However, by the time you sit down to eating, you’ll be so hungry that whatever calories you “saved” during the day will be quickly used up during your hangry binge. Having a light but balanced breakfast (smoothie), lunch, (salad with hard boiled eggs) and snack (Greek yogurt) before dinner will allow you to mindfully build your plate with appropriate portions, instead of piling it high with anything you can get your hands on.

2. Bring a healthy side dish

Offering to bring a dish to the party that you know is lower in calories, nutrient-dense, and fits within your dietary preferences will ensure that there is something suitable for you to eat. Try making roasted vegetables, a barley salad, or cauliflower mash. You can also take traditional recipes and make healthy swaps (e.g. sub unsweetened applesauce for sugar, thicken soups with pureed vegetables instead of cream, use avocado as a source of fat). Plus, any host would appreciate the gesture!

3. Follow the balanced plate!

I’ve talked about this in a few of my posts, but it really is the simplest way to control your portions of carbs, protein, and fat, and maximize vegetables.

  • ¼ plate protein: this is your turkey (or other poultry, red meat, pork, and vegetarian protein)
  • ¼ plate starch: mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato casserole (or any grain, bread, and starchy vegetable)
  • ½ plate vegetables: any fresh or cooked non-starchy vegetables. This category should always be the main part of the plate
  • Plus a source of fat: oil, salad dressing, butter, avocado, gravy, sour cream (about the size of 2 thumbs)

4. Where does dessert fit in?

Although not part of the balanced plate, there is definitely room for a little dessert on Thanksgiving (and always). However, by the time dessert comes around, you’ll likely already be stuffed, and that slice of pie can slip you into that anticipated food coma. Keep in mind:

  • Just because a dessert is gluten-free, low fat, or vegan does not mean that it is LOW in calories. Treat all dessert as something to be enjoyed in moderation.
  • Skip the garnishes that traditionally go with desserts (i.e. vanilla ice-cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce) to cut back on unnecessary calories.
  • Try a few lighter desserts: baked apples or pears with cinnamon, homemade pumpkin spice latte with skim milk, pumpkin puree yogurt parfaits (see Pinterest for inspo).
  • Listen to your body: if you are already stuffed, you aren’t going to enjoy the dessert anyways. Take it home to enjoy at a later date.

5. Eat intuitively and mindfully, without denying yourself!

Part of my mandate as a dietitian is to never restrict my clients from enjoying the foods they love. These high-cal, low nutrient-dense foods can be a part of any healthy, balanced diet in moderation, and prohibiting yourself from eating them will only cause you to eventually binge on them. So, Thanksgiving is no different- have that slice of pumpkin pie and ENJOY every damn bite!

Mindful eating means taking the time to really taste your food, noticing the texture, scent, flavours, and pleasure that each bite gives you. This allows you to really feel satisfied and satiated, and may help avoid cravings later on.

DO NOT feel guilty or consider yourself “bad” for eating a “bad” food. There is no such thing as a “bad food”, there are just foods that are less nutritious, and eating them does not define the kind of person you are. One slice of pie isn’t going to have an effect on your health.

6. The post-Thanksgiving "detox"

So even after following my tips, you may still feel like you totally over-indulged and aren’t feeling your best. Does this mean that you need to “detoxify” your body from all the food and alcohol consumed over the weekend? NO! Your liver and kidneys will naturally do that for you! No juice-cleanse, lemon water, or hot tea will significantly enhance this process (although it won’t harm you if consumed in addition to real food). What you can do is make a conscious effort to eat wholesome, fresh, natural foods- lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and fish, plus plenty of water. This, in combination with physical activity, will get you back on track in no time. (Having a session with a dietitian isn’t a bad idea either!)

Food aside, it is important to remember the purpose of Thanksgiving- to be thankful for all of the good in your life. I am thankful for my family, friends, the ONE Health Services team, and the opportunity to help my community live their healthiest and happiest lives! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

(picture source)

Avoiding The Freshman 15

September 16, 2016 in Nutrition

By: Nicole Korodetz, RD.

It’s the beginning of September and that means back to school! Starting university can be an extremely exciting but stressful time. You may be worrying about getting along with your new roommates, finding your classes, and managing a heavy course load. Amongst these typical stressors is the dreaded “Freshman 15”, an arbitrary amount of weight that university students are thought to gain during their freshman year. I myself was not too concerned about this entering university, as I was the type who could eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight. However, I quickly learned that my lifestyle during first year had a huge impact on my weight, energy, and overall health.

While adjusting to this new chapter in your life, your health should always remain a priority. The good news: it is very possible to eat healthy and stay active while in school, which are key for maintaining weight, and improving energy, sleep, concentration, and immunity.

Tips:

Eat breakfast! They don't call it the most important meal of the day for nothing! Eating breakfast will help you concentrate during early morning classes, fuel your day, and prevent you from overeating at lunchtime. Try a peanut butter & banana sandwich, hard-boiled eggs & fruit salad, or yogurt & granola, all of which are easy to take on-the-go.

Best options in the cafeteria: Residence food isn’t always appealing, and it can be hard to resist the pizza, fries, and other “not-so-good-for-you” options (I ate a few too many mozzarella sticks from my rez caf), but it is important to think about choosing nutritious items at each meal.

  • Include 3/4 Canada’s Food Guide food groups at each meal.
  • Be mindful of adequate portion sizes. For example, meat, chicken, fish, and bread should be the palm of your hand; rice, pasta, and vegetables are ½ of a fist. Balance your plate with a ¼ plate protein, ¼ plate starch, and ½ plate vegetables.
  • Choose items that are baked, broiled, steamed, grilled, or roasted. Limit items that are buttered, creamed, fried, and cheesy.
  • Make informed decisions by reading nutrition information posted in the cafeteria or online.
  • Beverages can contribute a lot of empty calories. Stick to water, skim milk, and herbal tea.
  • Establish an eating routine that works around your schedule, allowing you to eat every 3-4 hours.

Snack smart! See my blog post on Healthy Snacking! A mini-fridge in your dorm room is worth the investment to keep wholesome, unprocessed foods.

Make time for physical activity: Staying active will help maintain weight, improve energy, and relieve stress.

  • Take advantage of the campus gym, where membership is usually part of your tuition or offered at a discounted rate.
  • Treat the gym as a mandatory class that cannot be skipped. Etch “gym” onto your class schedule a few times a week.
  • Grab your floormates and follow a YouTube exercise video in your dorm’s common area.
  • Walk or bike to school instead of taking the bus, if possible.
  • Study while exercising on a stationary bike.
  • Join an intramural sports team (I played soccer, basketball and dodgeball, none of which I was skilled at!)

Alcohol: With all the social events, no parental supervision, and easy access to alcohol, there is an excuse to drink almost every night of the week on campus. Besides the high calorie content of alcoholic drinks, the post-bar snacking, disrupted sleep routine, hungover greasy breakfasts, and altered metabolism can wreck havoc on your weight. Alcohol in moderation means 1 drink per day for women, and 2 drinks per day for men. Try light beers, vodka sodas, and alternate between alcoholic drinks and water.

Budget wisely! With tuition, textbooks, and accommodation being mandatory expenses, spending money on food may be compromised. The result: a diet consisting of cheaper, energy-dense packaged foods.

  • Keep various piggy banks allocated to specific expenses, including food. If one bank gets depleted, money from the eating budget cannot be used for other expenses.
  • All prices are listed in the cafeteria so you can compare the prices of equally nutritious foods.
  • If buying food from an external grocery store, take advantage of coupons, promotions, sales, bulk buying, generic brands, and price matching.
  • Cut costs and calories by avoiding unnecessary purchases such as caloric beverages, extra cheese, supersizing, and candy. (But guac for 2$ extra is totally worth it).

Talk to a Registered Dietitian. Did you know that many campuses have dietitian services on site?! Dietitians can provide you with tips and education required to make healthy food choices so that you can reach your full academic potential! In addition, you can use your student benefits to help cover the cost of private practice dietitians in the surrounding area.

Being a victim of the Freshman 15 is not inevitable, and these solutions can help prevent undesirable weight gain from occurring. This term could gain a new positive meaning: “I tried 15 new healthy foods”, “I ran 15 extra minutes on the treadmill”, or “I made 15 new friends.”

To all students starting a new school year, good luck, study hard, have fun, and stay healthy!!

By: Dr. Melanie DeCunha, ND

Well, the temperature is dropping, the leaves are starting to change and according to fashionistas we are no longer allowed to wear white (….oops, I’m wearing white pants right now – who follows trends anyways, right?!).

With the change in temperature, and lots of kids (and adults) returning to school and/or work (hello –germ exposure!) this is one of the most common times of the year for people to become sick. While habits such as hand-washing and staying home when feeling below the weather can slow the spread of germs, having a strong immune system is key to prevent or shorten the duration of a cold.

Change of Season Soup originating from Traditional Chinese Medicine consists of several herbs that will help to enhance your immune system during this vulnerable time. Whip up a giant pot, and keep it on hand to sip on throughout the day or use as a base for your favourite soup!

Have multiple allergies or are a super picky/unadventurous eater? Scroll down for a simple Bone Broth recipe that is LOADED with nutrients and certainly will help you through cold season.


CHANGE OF SEASON SOUP

Ingredients

Equal parts (approximately 2-3 oz.) of each:

  • Codonopsis root
  • Astragalus root
  • Dioscorea (Chinese yam) root
  • Chinese Lycii berries

Note: you can often find these pre-packaged ingredients in a Chinese food market!

Instructions

  • Fill a large pot with water and add all ingredients. Bring water to a rolling boil then simmer for 2-6 hours.
  • Scoop out the herbs and keep the remaining broth that is left.
  • Once cooled you can keep a big jug in your fridge and store the rest in your freezer.

BONE BROTH

Bone broth is an extremely nutrient-dense broth that – surprise, surprise – comes from animal bones! During the Fall and Winter months it’s a great idea to have a constant pot of bone broth simmering. You can make a habit of having a cup daily and increasing your intake when you feel a cold coming on. It’s actually very simple to make (particularly if you do a lot of cooking at home and tend to have left over bones after a meal). It’s important to note that the bones should come from a healthy animal (in this case, organic, free-range, antibiotic-free). Also – choose the bones of a meat that you enjoy because the taste will certainly be enhanced once the bone broth is ready.

Ingredients

  • Bones of your choosing (it’s best to be made with big chunks of bones that have lots of marrow, but turkey/chicken carcass, lamb shanks, etc. work well too – you can also ask your local butcher for left-over bones that they might have)
  • Enough water to fill a large stock pot or slow cooker
  • Fresh, organic veggies of your choosing (carrots, celery and onions are a great choice)
  • 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
  • Optional: fresh parsley or other herbs

Instructions

  • Add bones, water and apple cider vinegar to pot. Let sit for 30 minutes to allow nutrients release from the bones.
  • Add chopped veggies (leave them in large chunks) to water and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce to a simmer for 12-48 hours (seriously – the bigger the bones, the longer it will take). You will know your bone broth is ready when the bones are falling apart and crumble under your fingertips.
  • Add parsley or other herbs during the last 30-60 minutes of simmering.
  • Strain all solid particles so you’re left with a broth (won’t be completely clear, but make sure you don’t have bits of bones floating around).
  • Once cooled you can keep a big jug in your fridge and store the rest in your freezer.
  • Similar to Change of Season soup, you can sip a cup each day throughout the fall and winter (feel free to add a little salt & pepper), or use a base for your fav soup.


The information provided is educational only. Please ask your Naturopathic Doctor if Change of Season Soup is right for you and other ways to develop an individualized health care plan.

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