Test 1-2, Test: The Thanksgiving Dinner Test

November 25th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

Well folks, American Thanksgiving is almost upon us. Who doesn’t love this festive weekend, especially the lavish family meals that go with it, not to mention the football extravaganza. “All the way” in spades my friends!

That horn of plenty is bursting with all that harvest has to offer. Think about what is served at a typical Thanksgiving dinner: the turkey, the nutty dressing, those golden roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, mashed yams, cauliflower and cheese casserole, homemade pie with a dab of ice cream. Ahhh gotta love all of this with a repeat to cover both sides of the bella famiglia.

Some people, might like this time of year though to kick off a better eating plan along with the football season. If this is the case for you put whatever regimen you’re considering to my special test – the “Thanksgiving Dinner Test” explained in my ebook Skinny on Slim. If a diet doesn’t allow you to eat the food served at this celebratory dinner, then forget about it, don’t give it another thought!

I’m not a lover of diets. They’re like living in a straight jacket with so many don’ts they’re hard to keep track of and even harder to adhere to for the long haul. Many do result in weight loss, for a little while, until your resolve caves making the food floodgates to fly open, then the weight rebounds. You end up feeling like you failed rather than the diet failed you. Think about it. Let this fall be pivotal for you and go on a plan you can adhere to for life, set in fundamental principles to help you lose weight, thrive, and soar for good. The best plan is one you can stick with “all the way”!

Look yourself in the mirror and make a pact that from this day forward you will set yourself free from dieting forever. Be darn sure that the plan you choose passes my Thanksgiving dinner test.

Read about this with solutions to help you along your journey in Skinny On Slim, The little black dress of diet books.

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Mother Nature 3 Ways

November 19th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’m back. Back from Middle Earth, a driving tour that led me around New Zealand’s south island, ahhhh. I love getting away and being able to ponder life’s wonders.

During that time my soul was doused with a triple dose of Mother Nature. Being able to witness the splendour of Mount Cook with a back splash of cirrus clouds, to crystal blue glacier lakes, fjords of Milford Sound on a mysteriously rainy day, an end-to-end rainbow with 2 pots of gold, the glory of spring flowers, to Fangorn’s Forest all connected by rolling hills and flatlands of farmland with flocks of sheep dotting the countryside from coast to coast to coast. Nothing could be finer, truly. Middle Earth? It felt like living a fairy tale. There and back again with Bilbo Baggins of sorts…

As I reflect about what was most captivating aside from “nature in your face” was the (almost) absence of big corporate anything, met with warm and genuine hospitality of unpretentious New Zealanders. Rarely a logo, a billboard, a golden arch, a fancy handbag was sported with a casual, comfort and acceptance of being as you were whether at a gas station filling up or a dining room of a remote lodge. How refreshing.

I relished listening to the silent whispers of nature whether a waterfall, sweet bird songs, the bark of a seal or wind rustled leaves. I collected souvenirs of rocks from the blue pools, some feathers of a red hawk and twigs of a grand Cypress tree found on the grounds of Larnarch’s Castle. How odd for me being a self proclaimed Material Girl, nothing seemed finer than those treasures I stashed in my suitcase….

There aren’t words to fully express the magnificence of it all as I mull over the jarring sumptuousness of my experience.

Speaking of jarring. The reentry to reality after an overnight flight being coddled to a final dose of New Zealand congeniality to San Francisco had life’s BS meter off the charts experiencing a double whammy of Friday the 13th day of November, literally. Paris splattered the headlines, to the Ho Ho Ho of Christmas harriedness, to my twitter feed spewing with breaking news. What gives?

It has been a few days since arriving home, still feeling a sense of calm from Mother Nature’s sweet caress despite our world going postal yet again in spades, sadly. As I took my daily walk I pondered my feelings more deeply, hmmmm. A lightbulb went off, AHA!

What we all need in our lives is more of Mother Nature – that’s the answer! I hiked to the grocery store yesterday to pick up some of her bounty that landed on my dinner plate. I walked with her feeling the brisker breeze blowing through my hair and sauntering by the bare trees reaching up to the sky. I felt her sense of calm to douse the stress of our world’s madness helping to make sense of it all somehow.

As I pondered what I’d write about in the months ahead aiming to synthesize life down to its skivvies, it came to me: let’s get more of Mother Nature in our life through our food, with fun activity and with her sage counsel to manage stress for our soul.

Hmmm, Mother Nature 3-Ways, more on this to come, Through Thick & Thin…

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Bountiful Beet Salad

November 8th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

I have been inspired lately by my fellow foodies cooking up a storm this harvest season. I decided to join in and learn to prepare a veggie I have never cooked before, yet love – the bountiful beet. I savour the rich sweet flavour of beets and often order them when I dine out. I brought home a 10 pound sack of them bent and determined to move my cheese and cook something new.

10 scrubbed beets, with greens cut off (golden &/or purple)
Spanish onion, sliced
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
small package goat’s cheese or feta cheese
toasted walnut pieces
fresh ground pepper
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare the beets. Line a roasting pan with enough foil to cover them, put beets on the foil and sprinkle with water and cover. Roast for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Peel beets and cut in chunks or slices, whatever your preference. (Can do this step a day in advance.)
2) Add the ingredients to a serving bowl and combine. Serve and enjoy!

I have prepared these a few times and roast as many beets as can fit in my pan. I put aside the roasted beets I was planning for a meal accompaniment then froze the rest in small bags, removed the air and labelled each package so that I can enjoy these another day down the road. My friend Dianne protects her hands by peeling the beets wearing rubber gloves… smart cookie!

I must say I felt a bit sheepish for never venturing into “beet prep” prior to this season and am delighted I branched out. What are you trying to prep this harvest season? Give something new a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Thank you my foodie friends for inspiring me this harvest season!

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Hold the trick on treats this Halloween!

October 28th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

The tweet fest has been mounting about whether to give kids healthy treats or toys at Halloween, hmmmm. Is that an oxymoron – “healthy treats”? I call that a “trick” in the “trick or treat” declaration, wouldn’t you?

Look folks, Halloween comes but once a year. It’s fun to celebrate a spirited day, dress up funny and shell out. Why suck the fun out of it? Truth be told, it’s a perfect time of year to put your relationship with food to the test…

Food means so much more than simply the vitamins and minerals it contains, but has a place within our social and psychological fabric. Kids are sharp as tacks being intuitive, sometimes more than we adults ever realize. When we the “gate keepers” take the “treat” out of “trick or treat” kids get the message that you’re telling them that something is bad about that. When you head down that road, it’s a slippery slope in a negative direction. Kids who live in “cleansed” environments without any goodies could go into “food seeking” mode and will gorge on treats when they eventually get them. Some studies have shown this. The unintended consequence could result in psychological eating issues which could shackle them in a vortex of disordered eating for decades. Lighten up!

Ideally we all want kids to establish a positive relationship with food or as I like to say “a love affair” described in my e-book. This involves eating and enjoying food, some treats in moderation, guilt free. This is not a black or white issue, but grey. When we deem foods by our actions as “bad” the unintended consequences could be staggering. That’s not the goal is it: to create a negative situation by being so virtuous?

I usually wait until the day before the big day to pick up my treats. You name it, I get it – potato chips, Cheetos, chocolate bars, candy, the full court press of offerings. It’s Halloween folks, kids don’t want “healthy treats” and neither do I as I sit at the door when the tykes drop by. Save the bridge games for the old folks home! What kind of trick is that? A very bad one! This is one of those occasions to take part in and have fun – nibble, nosh and be merry. When the sugar rush wears off, it’ll be time for school and work so enjoy!
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As the saying goes, “The whole is greater than the sum…”

October 23rd, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

We have all heard the saying “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” This saying came to mind recently when the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s press release exclaimed “Cut the crap!” They revisited their nutritional recommendations for a healthy heart and slightly shifted their position suggesting we eat more whole foods and less highly processed, low nutrient junk food, AKA “crap”! How wise is that? Very!

Well, well, well, what a breath of fresh air these well thought out, new recommendations are for everyone! Over the past decades the masses have complicated matters of the heart and the diet, transforming the innocent act of eating into such a complicated affair. We got to focusing too much on micronutrients, while losing the essence and joy of food and eating somehow. It’s time to put “the bread” back into “breaking bread together”!

I am not proclaiming that nutrients in the food don’t matter. Our masterful machines – our bodacious bodies need all nutrients to function optimally. Changing our focus to one overarching goal – to consume mostly whole foods in a balanced fashion, is sage advise. Aiming to cook these whole foods at home more often can be life changing and for some life saving.

Instead of needing to remember a wide array of complicated food and nutrition rules – “…more of this, less of that, this percentage of the other… ” you simply have to ask yourself, “Is this a whole food or not?” When you look in your fridge, freezer, pantry and grocery list you can easily see if you are on the right track. Make small changes to move in the direction of eating whole foods more often in balanced proportions.

A few weeks back I made a vat of tomato eggplant sauce and froze it in smaller containers. Last week I made a lasagne with ground beef & mushrooms, spinach & ricotta and noodles using that trusty tomato sauce. This week I assembled this cinchy dinner of smoked salmon & brie, whole grain bread with a side salad. Next week I plan to create some calzones and dip them into my tomato sauce. Trust me, I am no Julia Childs and approach this to make food prep as easy and enjoyable as possible.

It’s helpful to take stock of your whole food enjoyment right now. If you have been falling short during this harvest season get a move on to your grocery store or market and load up.

Because it’s true, the whole IS greater than the sum of its parts. Eating more home-prepared, whole foods is better for you than consuming your nutrients from a bottle or elixir and following a plethora of illogical food rules, don’t you think?

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Limerick for Ellie

October 15th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

There is a new baby named Ellie
Coming into the world she did dilly dally
Arrived Saturday by 10
Let the party begin!
To welcome our new baby Ellie

An armful of perfection she is
Took to breastfeeding just like a whiz
Awake and asleep
Oh so new
Love runs deep
That armful of perfection she is

Ellie’s parents are such a great team
A 2-some any new baby would dream
The love and the care
No one could
Quite compare
That Ellie’s parents are truly a dream team

Family love awashes Ellie all round
She doesn’t even need to make a sound
By her side we will stand
There to give
Her a hand
Family love awashes Ellie all round

Let’s rise up to make our world a better place
For all the Ellie’s of every single race
That’s what life’s all about
Go on
Don’t ever doubt
We can all work to improve this place

… welcome to the grand fam Ellie Francis, I will always have your back!

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Weight Loss Through the Years & What YOU Can Do

October 7th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Perhaps you read some of the headlines recently on why losing weight today is harder to do than 30 years ago. Hmmm, I thought, just what people need, are more reasons to give up on their journey from Fat City to Slim Town, what gives? I must say I read those articles with dismay, not really agreeing with all of their rationale. I feel there are other reasons why we may be having a more challenging time trying to lose weight. So here’s my take on what I feel the more relevant issues are and what YOU can do about it:

Mindless Eating – We are a people who multitask in a rush rush rush culture. Eating and drinking or consuming no longer only happen at the kitchen table with family, don’t you wish. A lot of consuming happens with distractions – while driving, while working, while watching TV. We now have cup holders in our vehicles that can hold a mega sized slurp-ee or specialty coffee that was never conceived back in the ’80′s. When scientists study what people actually consume – those tasty morsels that are consumed mindlessly don’t get recorded. Our bodies haven’t evolved into a mystery system I suspect. We just can’t remember those dang items consumed while doing other things and they really add up.
What can you do? Work on eating and drinking mindfully without distractions. Make a pact to eat, drink and be merry with your undivided attention. You’ll probably enjoy it more when you do. Awareness certainly is bliss!

Size Matters – This axiom has many applications… In the world of food and eating over the years we know that serving sizes have mushroomed to much larger portions – from cans of pop, to muffins, bagels, combo meals, to mega sized family packs of food – so much comes super sized you almost feel like you’re on the set of “Honey I shrunk the kids” in those big box Club stores! Kitchen cupboards are built differently to hold all of this super sized stuff. Over the decades of consuming the same items that are now 30% larger, it is no surprise if you’ve tipped the scale by the same percent.
What can you do? Start by choosing to consume most of your food off of smaller “salad sized” plates sitting down. While you’re at it, slow down your eating pace and experience yourself feeling satisfied. Get in the habit of making half your plate veggies and fruit throughout the day which is one of my many healthy and stealthy strategies in my ebook.

Easy Button Overload & Life’s Conveniences – On the other side of the energy equation, our lives have morphed into being able to press the “easy button” for everything. There are so many cozy conveniences from electric garage door openers, to moving sidewalks, to drive through’s, to the channel changer for the idiot box. You can say we now live on Easy Street which isn’t a word of a lie! Pair that up with our sitting epidemic and we have become so efficient we’re burning up less calories because of all of these conveniences. Good grief.
What can you do? Work on ways of moving more: take the stairs when you can, park further away, use active transport when you are planning activities close to home, work in 15 minute intervals of movement consciously and aim for an hour a day everyday.

Taste is King, Adds Caloric Sting!Food scientists have revolutionized taste perfection helping food companies find your bliss point in a vast array of ultra-processed food products. Who doesn’t want food to taste great? No one, that’s who! Let’s get real though, read the package labels and menu choices on-line to find out what’s in your food. Yes it might taste deadly, but it might just be addictive with all of the sugar, salt and fat added to it. I suggest you take my Eating Satisfaction Test and you may find that some of your favourite foods fall off your fave list.
What can you do? Get back to nature and eat more whole foods. The less packaged and ultra processed foods you and your family consume, the better. While you’re at it take my Eating Satisfaction Test!

Immediate Gratification – We the people have become so used to rewarding ourselves for every little thing we do with immediate gratification. We want everything NOW already. Yesterday is even better! And when it comes to taking the time to lose that 10 pounds we gained during the summer we want it to happen in a week. Stop the madness! If it took you 3 months to let 10 pounds sneak up on your back side it will likely take that amount of time to lose it. If you want to follow simple human biological principles, losing weight permanently FAST is next to impossible. Give a realistic game plan consideration.
What can you do? Get real and understand losing weight will be slow, but with small changes that stick, you can keep it off. Work in a reasonable system of rewards that are not food or drink related. Build a repertoire of behaviour that keep you motivated without needing to spend a slew of dough or eating some for that matter!

Final Word – Just because some experts tell you losing weight is harder to do these days doesn’t mean you need to throw up your hands and throw in the towel. Don’t give up and work on small changes that add up. In the process learn to enjoy your food and activity more. Tune out the negative nellies and know that you can do better when you’re aware of these modern day barriers. Kick them to the curb! So go on, take your lifestyle by the horns this fall in a positive direction!

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Who can you trust in this mad mad mad world of misinformation?

September 30th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , ,

I have written in my book that it can be a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World when it comes to the smelly heap of food and nutrition misinformation these days. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to believe. Sadly, many innocent consumers don’t only waste their hard earned money on crack-pot, unnecessary products but also harm themselves physically by trying some of these schemes.

I recently recounted a story I heard in my blog post “Clean Up on Aisle 3“. I heard about a woman who tried a cleanse, limiting her to only drink a high-priced, special elixir to help her find her fountain of youth. After a month on this bevy blaster her hair started falling out. That wasn’t exactly the special side effect she was seeking, good grief. That’s what happens when you don’t deliver all the nutrients your body needs consistently – it eventually breaks down.

Unfortunately the wisdom of eating a balanced diet and regular food can seem so unsexy and highly underrated when indeed this nugget is truly the Holy Grail… The moral of that story – don’t mess with the machine – your bodacious body, as I have written many times and explain in my ebook, Skinny on Slim the Little Black Dress of Diet Books.

Dietitians of Canada has some pointers to help Canadians sort through the noise to find the best available nutrition information.

Here are five tips to spot misinformation:

  • Is the person or product promising a quick fix like fast weight-loss or a miracle cure? If it sounds too good to be true, then it likely is! Making changes to your health means a commitment to eating well and exercising regularly. Check out the ‘Your Health’ section at dietitians.ca
  • Are they trying to sell you products such as special foods or supplements instead of teaching you how to make better food choices at home, at play, at work or while eating out?
  • Do they provide information based on personal stories rather than on facts? Although it’s nice to hear about a success story from a celebrity, it’s not proof that something works or is true. Nutrition advice should be based on the best available scientific research. Dietitians are university trained, regulated health professionals who use tools such as PEN® to make sure they are basing their advice on the best available information.
  • Is their claim based on a single study or a few research studies? Were the studies with animals or humans? Are you similar to the humans that were studied (age, gender etc.)? The stronger the study design, and the more studies available that draw the same conclusions, the stronger the evidence that something it true.
  • What are the person’s qualifications? Think about it: You wouldn’t ask a celebrity how to build a safe bridge, you’d ask a professional engineer. You also wouldn’t ask a celebrity to fill your cavity, you’d ask a dentist. The same thinking should apply for nutrition advice. Dig a little deeper and ask for credentials. The title dietitian is protected by law, just like a nurse, dentist or pharmacist. Look for the initials “RD or PDt” to identify a registered dietitian.

Awash yourself with wisdom people. Trust an RD!

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Fall Forward 6 Ways

September 23rd, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

We all know the saying “Spring Forward, Fall Back”. I am a contrarian on that. Once fall hits, I get that motivational New Year’s feeling, don’t you? I yearn to dial it up a notch to move forward with fresh thinking, goals and plans as the new season arrives. Care to join me?

Last week I blogged about part of a conversation I had with a book reader of mine. Paige and I conversed a few times and she mentioned something about what she experienced so far in her quest to get healthier that I wanted to share with you.

During the goal making process, as my readers take the step to make changes in their diet, attitude and life I suggest they not even consider “food related” goals at first and focus on behaviour instead. Take the pressure off! I based this recommendation on my own experience. When I embarked on my very last journey from Fat City to Slim Town that shift in thinking helped tremendously. For me, it was so freeing to allow all food to fit and focus on improving aspects of my eating behaviour. In time I lost the guilt, the food and eating preoccupations along with weight. Those changes alone are worth working on and will help you find some peace from all of those struggles.

Until I did that I never quite realized how much energy I wasted on obsessing over food and eating. To say it was exorbitant is an understatement. So in my exchange with Paige, she exclaimed, “What a revelation!” about how not making food-related goals was for her. Does this strike a cord in you?

So with fall upon us, plan to fall forward, not backward into hibernation mode, into couch potato-dom, into draw-stringed waistbands and slump wear. Make plans to fall forward to progress your lifestyle goals to help you dial it up a notch. Start by shifting your focus. Take the pressure off and make goals that aren’t food or weight related. How novel is that? Very! Here are 6 ways to fall forward:

One – Here’s a fresh idea: Kick food-guilt to the curb once and for all and find practical tips galore in my book to get er done! Create a love affair with food and eating by allowing all food to fit.

Two - Keep the lovin’ alive by creating another love affair with activity and exercise by making moves you enjoy. Your routine shouldn’t be your punishment. Have fun already!

Three – Identify the food and eating knots that bind you by keeping a journal. Practice the 3 R’s – review, reflect, reframe each week to eventually free yourself from these negative, energy sucking relationships forever.

Four – Get real this fall and take your lifestyle by the horns by making systematic small goals doing the 3 x 3 and rewarding yourself throughout. Try a new approach.

Five – Work on staying stoked with myriad motivations to keep you in the game from when you start throughout the process, whatever your goals might be.

Six – Get reading Skinny on Slim the Little Black Dress of Diet Books to help you find perspective, provide a slew of tips and be your support with you’re own RD and friend in your back pocket.

Unshackle yourself from mainstream “diet” thinking and focus your energy on living better! Experience your own revelation! Isn’t that what you really want – peace, not war? Let the changing leaves be a sign that it’s time to make positive shifts today. Join me in a fresh journey and fall forward!

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To Snack or Not to Snack? Managing your Hunger Games

September 18th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I recently received this message from a book reader of mine. She gave me permission to blog about it to help others who might have similar issues managing hunger.

Dear T & T,
I just finished your book, Skinny on Slim, The Little Black Dress of Diet Books and thought it had a lot of great tips. I have started journalling and have set some 3×3 goals for myself. I have a question about how to strike a balance between only eating when I’m hungry and eating to ensure I won’t be too hungry at a later time (to ensure no pig outs happen when serious hunger hits). For example, I tend to workout after work but before dinner. So I will have a snack around 4pm to give me plenty of energy for a solid workout and I’m not dying for dinner right after. But sometimes I am not really hungry when it’s snack time. One of my goals, is to focus on what actual hunger is, and I worry that snacking like this may impede that. Any thoughts?

Dear PO,

You bring up an excellent point about managing hunger with a busy routine. First of all major props to you for working out, keep up the good work on that! Being active is beneficial for you on sooooo many levels. Learning about your own hunger and fullness cues takes time and is a huge balancing act AND certainly worth the effort to work on.

If you’re not hungry at 4pm I suggest you forgo having a snack. It is, however, totally trial and error. Keep yourself equipped with fruit for afterward – a perfect post-workout and pre-dinner snack so you’re not ravenous when you get home. I think marketing ingrains in our heads that we need a pre and/or post workout snack even though we’re not elite athletes. Follow your cues and act accordingly.

Also I find different times of the month like when I’m PMS’ing I feel more hungry. If that’s the case I’ll have a snack. Fruit is my go-to option or a handful of unsalted nuts if I need more staying power. Boredom can do the same thing with playing funny mind tricks disguised as hunger when it isn’t! Reviewing the 3 R’s (review, reflect, reframe) from your journal and observing the patterns will help you figure out true hunger. Plus it will help you with to how better you manage hunger. I find when I’m ravenous it’s too easy to automatically overeat so my personal trick is to avoid getting to that point. Easier said than done, but an ongoing goal. It’s a true balancing act and takes time to figure out and manage.

It’s a worthwhile effort to discern what actual hunger is for you as well. There are times when my tummy plays gypsy music disguised as hunger, esp post vacation and what I actually need to do is to get back on track, ensure I drink my fluids (water at my workstation), eat more fruits and veggies, choose a balanced diet including enough protein at each meal while I retrain those stomach stretch receptors to snap back to normal. As I like to say: Awareness is bliss! Keep me posted on your progress and let me know if you have further questions.

Nutritionally yours,
T & T

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