5 Ways to Stay Healthy This Summer…and Still Enjoy It - Jessica Mosiuk, Joyful Belly Holistic Nutrition
Summer brings a flurry of BBQs, picnics, ice cream outings and late nights. Here’s how you can enjoy the food and drinks without feeling like garbage by the time September hits.
1. Make protein and veggies your priority at every meal.
The combination of protein and fiber will keep you full for longer, stabilise blood sugar and will combat the sudden urge for a carb binge. No need to focus on perfection here: do your best with what you have available to you. At a BBQ? No problem- grab a burger (or veggie burger) and load it up with veggies. Even pickles count so long as they aren’t the sweetened variety. Bonus points if you use a lettuce wrap instead of a bun.
General rule of thumb for protein serving sizes is a palm sized serving for women and two palms for men.
2. Move every day.
The key word being move not exercise. Summer gets crazy busy and often our exercise regimes get tossed aside. Not a big deal. You don’t have to be a social hermit just to hit the gym. On the flip side being sedentary and sitting all day every day will kill you*. Just make movement a priority every day: walk with friends, go for a bike ride or play a game of badminton. Any movement is good for you.
*Slight exaggeration but studies have proven that sitting 8+ hours really is terrible for you.
3. Stay hydrated.
This might actually be the most boring and overused “tip” ever but it’s also the easiest to let slide especially when summer sangria is involved. When it’s hot out, if you’re drinking more alcohol than usual or you’re exercising outdoors more your water needs increase. Aim for 10 – 12 glasses every day and more if you’re active or actively drinking (coffee, alcohol or both). If you’re not into water or want to boost the health benefits: add herbs and fruit. Mint, ginger and basil will help digestion and combat bloating. Lemon will help your liver out. Fruit and cucumber add a tasty flavour.
Always keep a 1:1 ratio of water to boozy beverages/coffee.
4. Don’t mix sugar and booze.
Sugar and alcohol is the fastest way to crazy bloating, sugar hangovers and generally feeling terrible the next day. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy either but steer clear of having both at the same time. If you like cocktails stick with a soda base (kombucha even works) and use fruit and herbs for flavour. Liquid stevia can be used in place of simple syrup.
As a nutritionist, I’m not suggesting you drink this BUT for a sugar-free cocktail take one part gin or vodka, muddled basil and cucumber and top with soda. It makes a nice mocktail as well.
5. Don’t have FOMO at food-based social events.
FOMO = Fear of Missing Out. Food FOMO can be a real issue for people especially if they have a history of dieting or restrictive eating. If you find yourself eating at social events like it’s the last BBQ/party/picnic you’ll ever go to…try to stay mindful that food will always be there. It’s not going anywhere. Switching your mindset from “a lack of” (this will be the only chance ever to eat this*) to an “abundance” mindset (I can eat this food whenever I want to) is key to tackling food FOMO.
*Except if you are on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. You should have definitely that gelato in Italy or that paella in Spain.
For a healthy grilling option, check out my Basil Quinoa Turkey Burgers here.
Jessica is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who helps people with IBS eat and live for a joyful belly. After suffering from IBS for years she found the formula to controlling it through diet and lifestyle. From there, she found her passion in helping others thrive with IBS. She offers online coaching and meal plans.
One of the most important aspects of a nutritious diet is balancing the major nutrient groups ("macronutrients")-protein, carbohydrates,fat-at each meal. Combining macronutrients will keep you full for longer, balance blood sugar and give you stable energy throughout the day. Here is a guide to creating a well balanced meal and a visual guide to portion sizes.
Friends have often asked me to teach them how to read tealeaves. When I stopped to think about how to create simple instructions on the art of reading leaves, two things struck me:
1) reading leaves, well, takes a lot of practice, and
2) interpretation comes from a multitude of reference sources and experiences.
For me, the leaves form shapes and the shapes represent metaphors for our shared human concepts - what Carl Jung referred to as the collective unconscious. These metaphors may come from different cultures and, amazingly, some are shared among many divergent cultures. For instance, when the leaves in a seeker's cup form in the shape of a lion, many virtues may spring to mind, such as grace, speed, and persistence (for the hunt/goal). Alternately, a lion could represent the astrological sign of Leo, or the major arcana card Strength in tarot, or even a member of royalty. The lion's posture, placement in the cup, and the surrounding shapes may also inform our interpretation of the lion metaphor. Is the lion relaxed or ready to pounce? These shapes and clues give the reader a sense and direction for interpreting what is happening at that moment in time in the seeker's life. Rarely does a lion in a cup represent, well, a lion!
That is the truly beautiful thing about tealeaf reading; the interpretation of the leaf is at once specific and boundless to all who are interested to practice the art with an open heart and a spirit of empathic curiousity.
Since 2004, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released their yearly "EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce" which ranks pesticide contamination on 48 popular fruits and vegetables. Along with this guide, they put together a list of the "dirtiest" produce in terms of pesticide contamination- called the Dirty Dozen. These are the produce that you should always buy organic.
Pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems including brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone disruption and lung irritation. The EWG describes pesticides best as "...toxic by design. They are created expressly to kill living organisms -- insects, plants and fungi that are considered “pests.” Many pesticides pose health dangers to people. These risks have been confirmed by independent research scientists and physicians across the world".
Here is the updated list of the "dirtiest" produce for 2016:
Can you hear it? Your own heartbeat, wind in the trees, squawking Stellar Jays, the
I’ve been playing with sound lately and discovering great beauty in this practice.
Apparently with the right sounds we can align with vibrations that foster health,
happiness and unity. So far all I can truly vouch for is that certain sound waves
traveling through my ears can rock my world.
Play a bit with your own musical memory and I’m sure you can remember a song or a
musical experience of joy, excitement, sudden sadness or being stopped dead in your
tracks unable to stop listening.
Nada Yoga, the yoga of sound divides vibrations into 2 main categories. Internal
sounds are called Anahata, named thus because they were originally said to be
‘perceived through the heart chakra’ and Ahata, sounds generated outside the body.
Yoga exists as a method of tuning the body in preparation for meditation. We stretch
and strengthen it, we listen to its messages of tightness and pain in order to move
through them and present the meditation mat with a calm body, breathing deeply and
vibrating or ‘humming’ at a low frequency. Then, with physical distractions on the down
low we are able to receive.
Think about savasana for a moment. The physical work is done and the room is quiet,
what does that ‘sound’ like on the inside? Listening internally connects us to our deeper
nature, our Yogi space, Buddha nature, voice within, soul, divine presence, truest self,
state of grace etc. Call it by whatever name you wish but chances are, if you’ve made it
to savasana even once then you’ve touched some level of restful quiet.
Q: "I've been struggling with bloating for about two years now. I have tried cutting out wheat and dairy- which helped a bit- but I still get bloated every day from eating. Certain meals make it a lot worse but I can't figure out what foods could be causing it."
A: Bloating is the most common and definitely the most frustrating tummy issue to deal with. Not only is it uncomfortable but it can be very embarrassing when your pants no longer fit by the end of the day. Finding the root cause of bloating takes some investigative work and it can be a combination of factors. When I work with a client whose main symptom is bloating, this is where I start:
Mechanical Breakdown of Food: are you chewing your food to a paste before swallowing? Are you eating in a calm and relaxed manner? Most importantly, are you eating while distracted (working, driving, walking, watching tv, reading etc.)? Focus on your food while you're eating- this is the easiest way to kickstart the digestive process.
Digestive Fire: are sufficient stomach acid and digestive enzymes being produced? Incomplete breakdown of food is a major cause of bloating.
Gut Micro biome: the bacteria in your gut dictate the health of the digestive system. We want healthy, robust good bacteria but certain things like antibiotics, stress, the birth control pill, and binge drinking can alter the state of the gut micro biome and sometimes cause an overgrowth of the "bad" bacteria and/or yeast organisms. Addressing this imbalance ("dysbiosis") is crucial not only for bloating and digestive health but also for mental and hormonal health. Stool testing through a medical doctor or naturopath is available to assess the state of the gut micro biome.
Food Sensitivities: this is a very individual area but the most common foods that cause issues are soy, dairy, gluten, corn, nuts and eggs. Food sensitivity testing can be done through a blood test though it is not 100% accurate. Another option is to follow an elimination diet and assess your symptoms throughout.
Stress: chronic stress causes your sympathetic nervous system (the "fight or flight" response) to be constantly engaged. When the sympathetic nervous system is engaged, our body's sole focus is to survive. The digestive system can not engage fully when the sympathetic nervous system is engaged. Chronic stress is a HUGE factor with the majority of people I see with tummy issues. Without finding ways to destress and engage the parasympathetic nervous system (the "rest and digest" response), tummy issues won't go away even if the areas noted above are on point.
Lastly, when these major areas are addressed and bloating is still an issue I look at FODMAP sensitivity. FODMAP is an acronym for a group of carbohydrate molecules found in every food. It stands for:
What a mouthful- see why it's only referred to in an acronym?!
Certain people, usually those diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, cannot break down these carbohydrate molecules. This has an osmotic effect in the small intestine: meaning water is drawn into the bowel and causes gas, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea. As I mentioned, FODMAPs are found in every food so it's impossible to eliminate them completely- the trick is to follow a low FODMAP diet. Every individual has a different limit to which FODMAPs they can handle and how much they can consume in one meal. It takes some trial and error to find the right foods in the right amounts. The good news is often times, certain high FODMAP foods can be re-introduced after a period of removal and gut healing.
If you've been struggling with Irritable Bowel Syndrome I highly recommend giving a low FODMAP diet a try. I myself follow it to keep IBS symptoms at bay. I'll be discussing how to follow a low FODMAP diet at the Thriving with IBS workshop on Saturday, April 23. We'll discuss how to eat, what supplements can help and important lifestyle habits to break free from the symptoms of IBS.
In last month’s newsletter, we discussed the importance of good digestion to many vital functions in your body, including immune health and hormone production (missed it? Click here to catch up). Most people experience some degree of tummy troubles regularly and there are hundreds of products out there marketed to aid in digestion. While digestion aids are sometimes necessary, the innate triggers for digestion are often overlooked. Here are the four simple ways to trigger your natural digestion process.
Chew, Chew, Chew
This may sound like an obvious suggestion, but most people eat much faster than is ideal for food breakdown, even if they feel that they are chewing sufficiently. Next time you’re eating, pay attention to the consistency of your food when chewing. It should be a paste without any solid food particles before swallowing. Each mouthful of food should be chewed and swallowed before you add in another forkful. Swallowing large food particles is a sure way to trigger gas, bloating and indigestion so it is essential for symptom relief that proper chewing habits are in place.
Eat When Relaxed
How often do you find yourself eating while having a stressful day at work? Or rushing to get breakfast in before you’re late? Eating while feeling rushed, stressed, upset or anything other than relaxed puts us in a fight-or-flight state, meaning that your sympathetic nervous system is activated and preparing your body for survival. When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, your blood pressure increases, your heart beats faster and blood flow will be redirected to your extremities-literally preparing your body to run. The digestion process is stopped while the sympathetic nervous system is activated as it is deemed a non-essential function during survival. Unfortunately, a large percentage of us are constantly in this state from mental stress. Use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing right before eating. If you really struggle with relaxing in your environment, consider more easily digested meals such as blended soups or smoothies. This scenario would be a time to stay away from the salads!
Give Your Food Some Attention
Its common practice to eat meals while distracted. Too often we are scarfing down meals while working, watching TV, reading or reading Facebook. Even a small degree of distraction can hamper the digestion process. Really pay attention to your meal; take in the colours, smell, and taste. Savour each bite. If you’re used to multi-tasking while eating, this may take some getting used to and you may feel fidgety at first. Monotasking is a rare thing these days, try to enjoy it!
Prepare Your Food with Love…and Interest!
You’ve probably heard the saying that digestion starts in the mouth, but the truth is, digestion starts with your eyes, nose and mind. Think about what happens when you are at your favorite restaurant when your favorite dish placed in front of you. For a moment, your sole focus is on this wonderful dish in front of you. Your eyes are taking in the sight and colours (because let’s be honest, professionally prepared food is generally more visually appealing than what we prepare for ourselves), you can smell the delicious ingredients and your mind is anticipating the wonderful flavours. You’re basically in food heaven and you KNOW it’s going to be good. Your mouth even may start watering before you take your first bite. Now think about your reaction when you’re about to eat your pre-prepared lunch or quickly thrown together dinner. Are you truly looking forward to what you’re about to eat? Are your taste buds anticipating the flavours? This certainly doesn’t apply to everyone, but I think it’s safe to say a lot of us aren’t that excited about what we prepare for ourselves. We’re busy, busy, busy and trying to come up with new and interesting lunches (or snacks, or dinners…) each week feels time consuming and sometimes overwhelming. Another common thing I hear is eating certain foods because “they’re healthy”. If you’re bored to tears with your food, chewing each bite without savouring and rushing to choke it down, it doesn’t matter how healthy the food is- you’re not going to break it down as well as something you truly enjoy. Choose foods that you love, real foods, and prepare it in a way that is appealing to you in taste, smell and sight. This is a sure way to fire up your natural digestion process.
Stay tuned for the April newsletter where I’ll be sharing foods and preparation techniques that can help digestion.
Gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea. These are all symptoms of poor digestion. Most people experience some form of digestive upset at some point in their life, but a large majority experience these things on a daily basis. In fact, for some these symptoms occur so regularly that it has become their state of feeling “normal”. What they don’t realize is that by allowing the digestive system to continue malfunctioning, they are setting themselves up for further health problems down the road. They may even be experiencing some symptoms of advanced digestive problems and are unaware of the connection. For example, a poorly functioning digestive system can result in these seemingly unrelated symptoms:
Skin problems including jock itch, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and acne
Allergies, both food and seasonal
Frequent yeast infections and/or urinary tract infections
Ironically, these symptoms are generally treated individually and the state of the digestive system is almost always overlooked (with of course the exception of diagnosed digestive diseases). When treated separately the symptoms may disappear for some time but when the root cause is not addressed they will reoccur or other symptoms may arise.
So how is the digestive system capable of affecting other areas of the body besides the obvious symptoms of indigestion and heartburn?
First of all, consider the fact that a large percentage of the immune system lies in your digestive tract. When our proper digestion mechanisms fail, our immune system is repeatedly provoked in order to “pick up the slack” and break down large food molecules. This is where food sensitivities begin to develop which result in their own wide array of symptoms including brain fog, lethargy, weight gain, headaches and rashes. Additionally, our intestinal lining gets weakened and can allow foreign protein molecules into the blood stream which then puts the body into a hyper-reactive state (cue more allergies).
Secondly, the digestive system is home to trillions of delicately balanced gut microbiota (also referred to as “gut flora” and “gut bacteria”) that are vital to many digestive functions including stool formation, synthesizing vitamins and even contributing to healthy immunity. Thanks to the recent influx in marketing of probiotics, more and more people are becoming familiar with the importance of good gut bacteria. There are many, many ways for our good gut flora to become imbalanced but for the sake of not turning this into a novel, let’s discuss the side effects. When our gut flora is in a state of imbalance (often referred to as Gut Dysbiosis), certain dysbiotic (“unfriendly”) bacteria and yeast organisms can take hold and overgrow in the digestive tract, causing a host of problems including constipation and/or diarrhea, abdominal distension, and cramping. Candida Albicans is one yeast organism that can proliferate in the digestive tract and can be the culprit behind chronic fatigue, joint pain, oral thrush, yeast infections, jock itch, gas and bloating, sinusitis, irritability and sugar cravings. Hydrogen and methane producing bacteria (gas bugs, literally) can take hold in the small intestine and affect our ability to absorb nutrients, leading to vitamin deficiencies (particularly B12). In fact, medical doctors are finding that small intestinal bacteria overgrowth is the culprit behind most Irritable Bowel Syndrome diagnoses.
Lastly, the digestive system is home to one of the body’s most important organs, the liver. The liver is responsible for so many essential functions of the body relating to digestion, metabolism, immunity and the storage of nutrients. Certain food choices and lifestyle habits can cause the liver to become sluggish which not only hampers digestion but effects hormone
detoxification. Slow hormone detoxification can cause or aggravate PMS and other hormone imbalances including PCOS and Estrogen Dominance.
If any of these symptoms mentioned sound all too familiar with you, it is important to address them before they worsen. Stay tuned for the March newsletter where I’ll be sharing what you can do (and eat!) to improve digestion.
Jessica Mosiuk, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Jessica was inspired to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist after her own experiences with chronic digestive issues. After years of medical visits and inconclusive tests, she finally discovered the root cause: her diet. From there, she delved into the world of holistic nutrition and found her passion in helping others thrive through food.
Questions? She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jessica Mosiuk, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
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