Put Down Your Scale And Pick Up Your Fork

Today I was scrolling through Instagram under the tag #weightloss. Once a month or so I look through some posts linked to popular tags to see what’s going on in the minds of people in the health and fitness community. Today I stumbled across an Instagram user who was asking for weight loss help. She was restricting herself to 1300 calories a day and noticed the scale had stopped moving. I shouldn’t be surprised that people are still using calorie restriction to lose weight, but I am.

Weight loss is so much more than energy out > energy in.

For years we have been told that to lose weight we need to go on a diet that decreases our calorie intake to less than the calories we burn. Guess what, we have gotten fatter. If eating fewer calories worked for everybody, by now we should have a skinny population. I’m not saying nobody has lost weight on a restricted diet, but I do not think it is a healthy or safe option.


Your Body Is Not Stupid

Our bodies job is to stay alive. It will do everything it possibly can to keep working. This is why we see people live through unthinkable circumstances and long-term illness. When you restrict your calories to less than your body needs, you may initially lose weight. Over time your body starts to think you aren’t going to feed it and it adjusts to keep you alive. It slows down energy systems and other biological processes to conserve enough energy to keep functioning. When this happens, the weight stops coming off, and many people will further restrict their diet, this either goes on until the person is severely ill or, in most cases, gives up and returns to their previous lifestyle. This leads to years of yo-yo dieting further confusing the bodies processes and sometimes causing long-term damage. This is the same for people who eat way more than their body needs, the safest response is for the body to store it as fat. Your body can’t let all that free sugar hang out in your blood stream, it must do something about it.

Put Down The Scale

Guess what, that number is JUST a number. There are so many variables that go into what you weigh. If you can’t look at yourself objectively, the scale will work against you. There is nothing wrong with using it as a tool of measurement, but it should never be used as a tool of destruction. Your motivation needs to come from something deeper than wanting to look a certain way. It needs to come from something inside you saying, “I want to be better.”


Pick Up Your Fork

I want you to pick up your fork and eat your way to better health. I want you to choose whole foods that leave you feeling satisfied at the end of the meal. I want you to include a healthy source of fat to help curb cravings. I want you to eat lots and lots of vegetables so that your body gets the nutrients it needs to function properly. Weight loss is a side effect of good health, it isn’t the cause. Look at yourself in the mirror and accept where you’re at, and then strive to be better. Love yourself but never give up on improving. Fix your health, and the weight will come off on its own. You can read what I recommend you eat here.

Individualized Nutrition

As human beings, we are all unique. Not one is like the other. Why then do we constantly try to copy one another? Our DNA is unlike any other person on earth, but we tend to treat ourselves like we are all the same. We assume that if it works for one person, it should work for everyone. Some general principals work for everyone but to achieve optimal health, you need to find what works for you. Your nutrition plan shouldn’t look exactly like anyone else’s. The foods your body loves/hates are not going to be the same. I am gluten free, that doesn’t mean you should all be gluten-free. I have a friend who can’t eat tomatoes, I didn’t stop eating them just because she did. Therefore, I find out as much as possible about my clients. I want to know how you feel after you eat. I want to know how you sleep at night. I want to know how stressful your job is. These things change the nutrition plan I prescribe. Don’t put yourself in a box, or on a diet, just because other people do.

Eat Your Veggies!





Eatreal4life Free Food Guide

Last week I talked about the Canadian Food Guide. This week I’m sharing my own food guide! I’ve created an infographic to help simplify. Feel free to share with a friend!
I want to address one of the main differences between my food guide and the government’s. The government still recommends a high carb/low fat diet, but you will notice I recommend a more balanced approach with more fat, more vegetables, and less carbohydrates. I wouldn’t say it’s a low carb diet, it’s just lower than the Canadian food guide recommends. Recently, there is a lot of talk about inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s response to stress. Acute inflammation is good. If you break your leg and notice it’s red and swollen, this is a sign the immune system is doing its job. Chronic inflammation is when the body is dealing with inflammation all the time. If your broken leg was still just as swollen and red three weeks later, you would be concerned. While most of us don’t have swollen red limbs, our body does give us clear signs of inflammation. Some of them I’ve listed below:

Achy Joints
Stomach Pains
Weight Gain
Low Energy
Slow Recovery
Frequent Colds/Flus
Water Retention
The list goes on and on…….

Recently, a meta-analysis completed by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found this:

“Coronary artery disease pathogenesis and treatment urgently requires a paradigm shift. Despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong. A landmark systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies showed no association between saturated fat consumption and (1) all-cause mortality, (2) coronary heart disease (CHD), (3) CHD mortality, (4) ischaemic stroke or (5) type 2 diabetes in healthy adults.1 Similarly in the secondary prevention of CHD there is no benefit from reduced fat, including saturated fat, on myocardial infarction, cardiovascular or all-cause mortality.”

The belief that a high fat diet can clog your arteries has been challenged and disproven over and over, and yet many people are still avoiding fat and choosing to eat a high carbohydrate diet. Considering the longer we have followed the high carb/low fat diet, the sicker we have become, you would think that by now the food guide would have made some adjustments. Hopefully the new one does! The article went on to say:

“In comparison with advice to follow a ‘low fat’ diet (37% fat), an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet (41% fat) supplemented with at least four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or a handful of nuts (PREDIMED) achieved a significant 30% (number needed to treat (NNT)=61) reduction in cardiovascular events in over 7500 high-risk patients.”

You can read more about it here

A high fat diet has shown to decrease heart related events, not increase them! We need fat to fight inflammation! I chose averages for the servings. Each person is unique so there is no one diet that will fit all. Obviously the lower end is for smaller people and the higher for larger. If I can recommend one thing you should take from this, it is to eat whole food and little sugar. I don’t recommend avoiding saturated fat, which means you will get a fair amount of fat in your meat. I’m not saying you should drink the stuff, but I’m not recommending you avoid meat because of it. The food guide I have designed is about balance, but it is also about decreasing inflammation and giving the body the micro and macronutrients it needs. I am not funded by any organization and gain nothing by making these recommendations. As always, if you have a pre-existing condition/take any medications you should contact your health professional before making any changes!



Eat Your Veggies!


A Review Of The Current Canadian Food Guide

Did you hear? The Canadian Food Guide is being rewritten! Before it gets released I want to take a look at the current guide and what I hope we see in the new version.


For the sake of flow I’m going to refer to the Male 19-50 category. The guide recommends the following:

8-10 servings of fruit and vegetables

8 servings of grain

2 servings of milk/alternatives

3 servings of meat/meat alternatives

Starting with Fruit and vegetables.

Pro’s: 8-10 servings is an excellent recommendation. I would recommend they separate the fruits and vegetables making it 8 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit. Reason being, if people don’t know much about nutrition they will likely choose fruit over vegetables when given the option. Try feeding a baby peas and then switching to bananas. Which one are they going to choose if they have the option? Most babies will choose the bananas. We like sweetness, most of us prefer it to any other taste.

Con’s:You will notice that a glass of 100% fruit juice is considered a serving of fruit, I think this is a problem because it gives the impression that drinking a glass of orange juice is just as beneficial as eating an orange. Eating the entire orange ensures that you get fiber along with the fructose. Fiber helps slow down the release of sugar into the blood stream. I have nothing against freshly squeezed juice but I do think it is meant to be had in moderation. If someone wants to have 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed juice at breakfast, that’s great. If they start replacing multiple servings with juice, I’m going to be concerned. Another problem is that many people believe Tropicana and Simply Orange are equal to freshly squeezed juice. They are NOT. In the past few years the public has been made a aware of the sneaky tactics these companies use to keep their “100% real juice” status. Whenever possible, make your own juice or buy it from a local organic juicery.

Let’s move on to grains. The recommendation for the male is 8 servings of grain. A serving is one slice of bread, 1/2 a cup of other grains or 3/4 cup of cereal.

Pro’s:First, to the side you will see they recommend that at least half these grains be whole grain and that you read the nutrition labels before you buy. I can see the effort here and I applaud it. When choosing a grain whole grain ,much like choosing the orange over the juice, contains more nutrients, more fiber and less sugar. White bread has been bleached and processed to the point where it cannot be considered a health food. It’s a sham. I think the guide should contain more information on why they make certain recommendations. If you dig around you can find more, but making it all part of the same info-graphic would make it user friendly.

Con’s: Back to the servings, 8 servings of grain a day. That’s 8 pieces of bread. I realize they aren’t recommending people eat 8 pieces of bread, but they aren’t NOT recommending it. If you think about it, toast at breakfast, a sandwich at lunch and pizza for dinner would get you pretty close to 8 servings and you can’t tell me that isn’t a common menu. Grains do contain many good nutrients, but 8 servings a day is excessive. I would recommend 3-4 servings of grain with the rest of the carbohydrates coming from a sweet potato, squash and other vegetables. I would also recommend those grains be as natural as possible! For people ,like myself, who struggle with autoimmune diseases it is often best to limit grains to 0-1 servings a day and fill up on nutrient dense vegetables and healthy fats.

Milk and milk alternatives. We’ve all been on the ride from milk is good to milk is bad to milk is good. Everywhere you look there’s a different opinion on whether or not you should drink milk. The main reason milk is recommended is that it contains calcium which is a mineral that contributes to bone health, among other things. There are several leafy greens that have higher concentrations of calcium than dairy products. Factor in that the milk we drink today is pasteurized and has an acidic affect on the body and there isn’t a great argument for consuming it. About 65% of the population has a reduced ability to digest lactose, meaning more than half of us shouldn’t be consuming it at all. I would like to see dairy as a nonessential food group. It can be included as something to partake in if you do not have a lactose intolerance.

Meat and Alternatives.

Pro’s: I like meat. It provides us with essential amino acids that are used as the building blocks of our muscles. Only a few meat alternatives give us all the essential amino acids our body needs. I agree with the 2-3 servings as suggested but when looking closely at the info-graphic I see a few red flags.

Con’s:They have peanut butter as a meat alternative, while peanut butter does contain protein it also contains double the fat. I am 100% pro fat but would prefer to see the peanut butter in its proper category. Legumes are also listed as a meat alternative. 1 cup of legumes contains about 8g of protein and 21g of carbs. You would have to eat a lot to get enough protein and you’d be eating more carbohydrates than necessary. Legumes have many health benefits, but they should be listed as a source of carbohydrates before a source of protein.

What about fat?

To be fair, the rainbow version of the template used to contain a small red line that represented fat. Now there is a box recommending 2-3 TBSP of unsaturated fat be consumed every day. This is great advice, we all need unsaturated fat for our bodies to function at their best. What I don’t like is they are still scaring people away from saturated fat when in moderation it can be used by the body. Along with that they are recommending margarine over butter. On average margarine contains 14 ingredients,some of them man made, while butter contains 2 ingredients (cream and salt). It doesn’t take a genius to recognize something isn’t right about that recommendation. I would recommend Fat be included as a food group.

Where’s the sugar!?

My biggest issue with the Canadian Food Guide is the lack of information on sugar. Somewhere in there it said to limit it, but it does not address what “limit” means. Considering that the average Canadian eats about 80 pounds of sugar a year I would think it would be something they would want to address. We have an obesity, diabetes and heart disease epidemic on our hands but our food guide doesn’t address the role sugar plays in it. It should be stated clearly that sugar should be eaten as little as possible. I would set the limit at 20-30g a day of added sugar. Many people get that in their morning beverage run alone. Sugar is not an essential nutrient in the human body and literally contributes nothing to your health. There should also be information on the role sugar plays in causing inflammation in the body.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, I did not get into the politics that went on during the design phase of the food guide. We live in a corrupt society that is rooted in money. How do you think Coca-cola would react if the food guide started recommending a daily sugar intake that is less than a can of coke? How would Wonder Bread react if we only recommended 2-3 servings of grain a day? How would the entire dairy industry react if we didn’t include dairy as an essential food group? Whenever possible, follow the money. My next post will be a more concise piece on what we should eat and why.

Eat Your Veggies!



The Sugary Sweet Truth

What’s the deal with sugar? I have a big sweet tooth. I like chocolate just as much as the next person does. I 100% believe chocolate should be a part of every person’s life purely because it is delicious and satisfying. I also believe that we live in a society that has fallen way off track when it comes to nutrition. The blame cannot solely be placed on one person’s head. We have a duty to do our own research, and figure out what works for our individual bodies. At the same time, we should be able to trust the health care professionals and organizations put in place to help guide us. Sugar is creating quite a stir in the health community. Until recently, it has been quietly swept under the rug with many well-known organizations telling us that it had little-to-no effect on our health. You can read more about how blood sugar affects our health in my other blog posts that focus on Carbohydrates, Fat, and Protein. In this post, I want to share what I found (or lack thereof) when doing my own searching about sugar. I want to help you make better, conscious choices going forward.

What are the recommendations for sugar consumption? 

As of today, Canada does not have specific guidelines pertaining to sugar consumption. When preparing this blog post I searched through the Canadian Food Guide and Dieticians of Canada website, to which neither make any recommendations regarding sugar, except to mention that it should be “limited.” Considering the research linking sugar to chronic diseases including heart disease, and type II diabetes, I was shocked there were no appropriate recommendations in either of the two organizations responsible for educating Canadians on what they should eat.  The organization that does have something to say about this is WHO (World Health Organization). They recommend that sugar should not make up more than 5-10% of our daily calorie intake. This works out to about 20g (5 tsp) for women per day, 36g (9 tsp) for men per day, and 12g (3 tsp) for children per day. These recommendations include added sweeteners, including honey and maple syrup, but do not include vegetables and fruit, as research up to this point has not seen a negative affect from these foods.

What’s the big deal?

This is a hot topic right now. Recently, the New York Times published an article claiming that the Sugar Industry Scientists pointed the finger at fat while downplaying the role sugar played in chronic disease. They claim this has been going on for years, and has played a big part in shaping the recommended guidelines North Americans follow today. What they are saying is this: we were lied too. If you start researching this, it is hard to pick out the truth from the lies. It may be years before we know how big of an affect sugar may have on us. Most of us will agree that sugar has a negative effect when consumed in large quantities, and that limiting it may lead to improved health. Some of the negative side effects linked to over-consumption of sugar are the following:

Increased Inflammation 

Decreased Immune Function

Increase in Obesity

Heart Disease

Type 2 Diabetes 

…and the list goes on.

This is Not Fear Mongering 

I am not telling you to give up sugar completely. I am only suggesting that you look at your current diet, and assess how much sugar you are consuming. Like me, you will be surprised where you find sugar hiding. The phrase “everything in moderation” has become overused, and is now an excuse to eat whatever we want. We should eat a lot more of some things (vegetables), and a lot less of others. Not all foods are created equal, and it is time we start fueling our body with the food that it needs.


How Much Sugar Are We Eating?

According to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian consumes 26 teaspoons of sugar per day. That works out to 80+ grams per day, 40 kilograms per year, or 20 standardized bags of white sugar (woah). How is this possible? Below I have provided a list of popular treats with the amount of sugar found in a single serving of each. Keep in mind many people do not stop at one serving.

Can of Pop: 40g

Motts Assorted Fruit Flavoured Snacks: 10g

Snickers Bar: 47g

GoGurt Tubes: 8g

M&M Peanuts: 25g

Chocolate Pudding (1/2 cup): 17g

Dairy Queen Blizzard Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (small): 76g

Quaker Chocolate Chip Granola Bar: 5g (I am including this because I’ve seen many kids eat many of these in one day. It would only take a little more than two bars to be over the recommended intake)

As you may have noticed, one can of pop is double the recommended amount of sugar for the average female suggested by WHO. It is 4g over the recommendation for men, and 28g more than the recommended daily intake for children.


So what do I eat?

I don’t like telling people not to eat something. I suggest that instead of focusing on what you don’t think you should have, focus on healthy foods you know your body needs. If vegetables, fruit, whole grains and meat are the majority of your meals, you have a great base to build on. For most people, snacks are the hardest to replace with healthy options. Here are some snack suggestions:

All fruits and vegetables are excellent options (Fruits and Vegetables do contain naturally occurring sugar, the focus in the article is on added sugar. Fruits and Vegetables have high levels of fibre which helps slow down the absorption of sugar, they also contain many micronutrients needed in the body.)

Apple slices with peanut butter

Greek yogurt, almond slivers and fresh berries

Carrot sticks and hummus

Whole wheat crackers and cheese

If you search online, you will find thousands of other snack ideas!

How do I go about cutting out added sugar?

Cutting out sugar can be a very hard task. I suggest you start by keeping track of how much sugar you consume on a daily basis. Write out a few days’ worth of food, and asses the sugar content of each meal/snack. If you want to decrease the amount you are consuming, start by replacing one food that you frequently eat that you think may be having a significant impact on your health. For many people, replacing sugary beverages is a great place to start. If you drink three cans/bottles of pop a day, try only drinking two a day for an entire week. After that, you can cut down a little more until it becomes a treat rather than a daily occurrence! Focus on one small change at a time!

Eat Your Veggies!


The Big FAT Lie!

“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.”  

~Thomas Edison


Are you afraid of fat?

For the past 50 years, we have been told to avoid eating fat because it would cause weight gain, heart attacks, and a variety of other health issues. By the early 80’s, obesity was well on its way to becoming an epidemic, despite the fact that 10 years before that, the recommendation of a low-fat diet had been implemented. Low-fat products lined the shelf, and foods such as animal meat, full-fat dairy, and eggs were avoided like the plague. With this low-fat diet came the rise of an overweight and very sick population. More recently, information has been released from many professionals claiming that our dietary recommendations were more about whose pockets were getting lined rather than who had the most education and knowledge about nutrition. Today, I want to debunk the myth that fat is bad for you, and is in fact, a necessity to the human body.

What is Fat?

Along with Carbohydrates and Protein, Fats are one of the main macronutrients essential to the human body. There are three types of fats commonly referred to in nutrition: unsaturated, saturated, and trans fat.

During the digestion process, fat is broken down into fatty acids.  Fatty acids are chains made up of carbon atoms. These chains can be short, medium, or long depending on the number of links. Our bodies need all three kinds of fatty acids to remain healthy. Our body also needs fatty acids that are both saturated and unsaturated.

Up until recently, we were cautioned to avoid saturated and trans fat, while limiting our intake of unsaturated fat to the bare minimum our bodies needed to survive. Oddly enough, rather than getting thinner, the population only got fatter.


You NEED Saturated Fat!

In recent years, many studies have been reviewed showing no connection between saturated fat and heart disease. There appears to be a stronger link between sugar consumption and heart disease, but further research is needed before this will become an accepted claim.  When looking at the function of saturated fat in the human body it is obvious that we need it! Below are some of the reasons we need saturated fat.

  1. The brain is made up of mostly fat; a lot of it is saturated. Getting the proper amount of saturated fat contributes to brain function.
  2. White blood cells need saturated fat to complete their function of recognizing foreign invaders. 
  3. Saturated fat is needed as insulation for your nervous system. Without it, you are more susceptible to stress.
  4. Certain saturated fats function as signalling messengers. If you do not consume enough saturated fat, the communication between your cells will not function properly.

These are only a few of the reasons saturated fats are necessary in your daily diet. Hopefully, future research will help determine how much is really needed and will set us on a healthier path with new dietary guidelines. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as milk, meat, and eggs.

Is this me giving you permission to stuff your face with butter and ice cream? NO! balance is key.


Unsaturated Fat is the new hero!

Even the American Heart Association agrees that unsaturated fat is beneficial in preventing heart disease. It has been shown to lower your LDL cholesterol levels, which in turn lowers your risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fats are found in nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil, and avocado.

There are two essential fatty acids that can only be ingested through eating unsaturated fats, specifically polyunsaturated fats. The two essential fatty acids are omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids. Both have unique and necessary functions in the body. I have listed a few below.

Omega 3

  • Reduces triglycerides in the blood
  • Reduces buildup of plaque in your arteries
  • Can slightly lower blood pressure
  • Improves brain health

Omega 6

  • Helps reduce blood sugar levels
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Has anti-inflammatory properties

In the North American diet, omega 6 is easily accessible. Omega 6 is found in many packaged items, as well as nuts, and the oils extracted from them. Omega 6 does not need to be supplemented as often as omega 3. It is not as easy to get the proper amount of omega 3, as it is omega 6. Consciously adding foods to your diet that contain omega 3 can help ensure the proper balance.  The following link lists different foods, and the levels of omega 3 contained in them. http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Fat/Food-Sources-of-Omega-3-Fats.aspx

What about Trans Fat?

Trans fatty acids are formed through a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogen is added to oil to turn the fat molecules into solid fat. Trans fats are mainly found in packaged food items such as baked goods, margarines, snack foods, and deep-fried food. Many childrens’ snacks contain high amounts of trans fat. Trans fat has many negative side effects! It causes LDL (bad) cholesterol to rise, and HDL (good) cholesterol to lower. It has also been linked to an increase in type 2 diabetes. Avoiding trans fat as much as possible is widely suggested by medical professionals.

Natural is best

When it comes down to it, natural food sources are still the best. When choosing your fats, try to pick a majority of them from natural sources. Meat, eggs, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish are all sources of dietary fat. In addition, pay attention to the fact that you need both saturated and unsaturated fat. Cycling different fats into each meal can help you maintain a good balance.  As to how much you should eat, I believe balance is key. Making sure that each meal includes a small portion of fat along with larger portions of protein, vegetables, and starch will ensure you get enough of each macronutrient. Many nutritionists suggest the size of your thumb is a good tool for measuring the amount of fat on your plate.

Eat your veggies!