3-Step Guide to Buying The Healthiest Food

vegetables

There is no denying that plants are the healthiest foods on the planet.  According to The Institute of Integrative Nutrition we should consume 3-6+ servings of vegetables per day and 2-4 servings of fruit per day.  We should make sure that we eat a rainbow of colours in our fruits and vegetables.  Each colour offers our bodies different nutrients and anti-oxidants.

But buying fruits and veggies has gotten more complicated.  Is it better to buy organic and what does non-GMO even mean?!  Here is a quick guide to choosing the best fruits and veggies for your family.

#1 Organic

Organic is the best choice but you may find that it is killing your budget.  If you want to trim your grocery bill then check out the “Dirty Dozen” list.  These are the fruit and vegetables with the highest level of toxins from pesticides and herbicides.  You can stick the buying the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables from the organic section and know that you are reducing your toxic load.  This list will change every year so to find this year’s list CLICK HERE.

There is also something called the “Clean Fifteen”.  These are the fruits and vegetables that contain the least amount of toxins.  You do not need to bother buying them organic if you want to save some money.  CLICK HERE to get this year’s list.

#2 Local

Another consideration when buying fruits and vegetables is to buy locally farmed food.  We can easily do this a the Farmer’s Markets because everything there is local but pay attention at the grocery store.  Look at the signs in the produce section.  Where is this food coming from? 

It is best to avoid food that comes from foreign and distant countries.  There are 2 reasons why you should.  First of all, this food is travelling a LONG way and therefore the nutritional content of the food will be diminished by the time you eat it.  Second, these countries do not have strict enforcement of the toxic load that is being applied to these foods.  You do not know what is being sprayed on these fruits and vegetables – BEWARE!  Try to stick to North American produce.

When buying fruit and vegetables, consider purchasing from the frozen aisle.  Freezing preserves most nutrients and some frozen foods will actually contain more nutrients than fresh.  This may be the case in any fresh food that has come from a foreign country and has traveled a long distance.  The longer the time from harvesting the food, the lower the nutritional value.

#3 Non-GMO

GMO’s — or genetically modified organisms — refer to the plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology.   It is food created by merging DNA from different species.  It is best to avoid the GMO foods and opt for non-GMO.  Unfortunately our food is not always labelled so we may not know we are eating it.  The safety of GMO foods is unproven and there is an increasing amount of research that connects these foods with health concerns and environmental damage.

When shopping, choose local (Canadian or American – for foods that can’t be grown in Canada) produce.  Supporting local farmers also supports the local economy and reduces the environmental impact of food transportation.

Happy Eating 🙂

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A Quick & Easy Way To Detox Your Body

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Yoga Detox With Twists & Bends

After an over-indulging holiday like Thanksgiving, you may be feeling a little sluggish and lacking energy or maybe you feel a little bloated from all the excess food.  There are conflicting opinions on how and most importantly IF you actually can assist your body in the detoxification process.

How Our Body Detoxifies:

Our bodies are designed to get rid of waste.  The organs of detoxification include the colon, liver, lungs, kidneys, skin and lymph glands.  The body cleanses itself of environmental pollutants, food waste, poison, harmful bacteria and other substances such as alcohol, medications and parasites on a daily basis.

The liver is our primary filter.   It processes virtually everything we eat, drink, breathe in or rub on our skin.  Our colon and kidneys filter the food we eat and detox our bodies everyday through urination and bowel movements.  Our lungs filter the air we breathe.  Our skin eliminates toxins through sweating.The lymph collects unwanted “debris” in the body such as fats, bacteria and other harmful materials and filters them through the lymph nodes.

How We Can Help The Process

Regardless of all the debates on various methods of detoxing, there is one way FOR SURE that will enhance our body’s natural detox process.  It’s not through a special diet or juicing (they may help), it’s through exercise.  This is something that can NOT be disputed.  It is truth.

Exercise helps flush out toxins by increasing sweating and circulation.  The lymphatic system needs help to circulate lymph through our body.  It has no “pump” and relies solely on our body’s movement for circulation.  Exercise increases circulation in our bodies which improves the effectiveness of the liver and lymph nodes at cleansing and purifying. 

Exercise also helps eliminate toxins over a long-term because toxins are stored in our fatty tissue.  Once we reduce our body fat, we can release the toxins and our cleansing organs can eliminate them.

Yoga is a great way to enhance our body’s natural detoxification process.

3 Reasons WHY Yoga Works Best:

 1) Twists & Bends

A flow of yoga poses that consists of twists and bends and forward folds will compress and squeeze the internal organs which will improve elimination of waste by enhancing digestion and improving bowel function.

2) Inversions & Heart Rate

The simplest inversions (such as legs up the wall) will improve circulation.  Inversions use gravity to “pump” the blood back up to the head and heart.  As we know increasing circulation is key for the detoxification of our lymphatic system. 

Also, Yoga (along with most forms of exercises) increases your heart rate and as such induces sweating – another way your body cleanses itself.

3) Para-Sympathetic Nervous System

Yoga has a unique way of inducing our para-sympathetic nervous system.  In our busy world we often live in a state of “fight-or-flight” (triggering our sympathetic nervous system), it’s important to purposefully induce the “rest-and-digest” state so that our bodies can heal and detoxify.  Living with constant stress keeps our cortisol levels high which interferes with the detoxification process. 

Click Here for Instant Access to My Yoga Detox Video for a short flow of poses to help detox your body!

12 Tips To Enjoy Thanksgiving Without Gaining Weight

thanksgiving

I love our Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend!  I love the food, the festivities, the fall colours, and visiting with family and friends.  The hardest part of the weekend is not over-indulging in all the delicious food.  I have 12 tips for you that will keep you from over-doing it but still enjoy the celebration.

1) Wear tight clothes

We all know this to be true.  If we wear loose fitting clothes it is easy to over-indulge.  That elastic waist conveniently expands with excess food and it accommodates that post-meal bloat.  Don’t do it.  Forget the spandex and yoga pants.  Wear something with no give and no forgiveness.

2) Do a HIIT Workout BEFORE you go to your event

Even if all you have time for is a 5 minute Tabata – do it!!!  Your metabolism will rev up and your body will be ready to use those calories for repairing and rebuilding your muscle tissue rather than storing fat.

3) Start your day with a balanced breakfast

Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that not eating breakfast will allow you to eat more calories later in the day.  Your body doesn’t work that way.  You need to stabilize your blood sugar right away in the morning.  Eat a breakfast with fat, carbs and protein.  Having all 3 macro-nutrients will ensure you start your day with balance blood sugar which will prevent you from overeating and having cravings later in your day.

4) Eat a small high-protein, high-fibre snack before you go to your event

Protein and fibre stabilize your blood sugar (preventing cravings) and keep you full longer.  A small snack could be just 100-200 calories.  For example, you could have 1/2 cup of roasted chickpeas (homemade or store-bought); 1 cup of raspberries (only 32 calories and 8g of fibre!!) along with 3 Tbsp raw pumpkin seeds (150 calories and 9g of protein).

5) Hydrate!

We often mistake our thirst for hunger.  Start your day with water, lemon water, or herbal tea.  Keep water with you throughout your event.  Being well hydrated will also help if you do over-indulge in alcohol.  It will help flush out toxins and prevent hangovers. 

6) Focus on your friends and family, NOT the food

Don’t stand and socialize close to the food table – staring at it while it mocks you.  Move to a place where you are NOT going to be looking into the face of temptation. 

7) Hold a glass of sparkling water

Find something healthy and low calorie to hold in your hands.  Having the feeling that you are participating in the food and drink will eliminate that fear of missing out and will help prevent people from offering you food and drink (that you don’t want).

8) Host the event yourself

Obviously this is a lot of work but if you want to be in control of the menu and the healthy food that keeps you on track – host it yourself.  If people want to pitch in for a potluck – you are in control of what becomes part of the buffet.

9) Do NOT drink on an empty stomach 

Enjoy your wine but eat something with it, otherwise you may end up making bad decisions as that wine clouds your judgment 🙂

Also, try to alternate between an alcoholic drink and a glass of water.

10) Stop and Plan before you eat

Take a quick survey of the food available in the meal.  Figure out which choices would be best before you pile up your plate.  Skip the starchy carbs like bread, pasta, rice etc and choose vegetable dishes and protein.  This will help keep you from overeating.  And remember, it takes your body about 20 minutes to send you the satiated feeling.  Do not go back for seconds right away.  Wait and see if you truly are still hungry.  Another helpful tactic is to use a smaller plate.

11) Indulge…a little

Michelle Vodrazka (who has tones of nutritional certifications and lives in Ottawa) has a great strategy.  Choose a treat that you REALLY want.  Take a small amount (she suggests a 3 bite rule).  This allows you to eat something that you really want without feeling deprived all night.  Plus it will appease your host – nobody likes it when you don’t at least try something they slaved over all day!!

12) Be Mindful

Be present when you eat.  It’s so easy to wolf down your food and then realize you don’t even remember how it tasted.  Sit down, chew slowly, enjoy each bite and all the flavour.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Weekend!!  Eat, drink and be merry!!

Cheers!

Natasha