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Intuitive Eating: What is it and how can you start doing it?

Health, Lifestyle, Mindset, Nutrition By February 20, 2018 Tags: , , , No Comments

“For both excessive and insufficient exercise destroy one’s strength, and both eating and drinking too much or too little destroy health, whereas the right quantity produces, increases or preserves it.” – Aristotle

If you are someone who has been trying to get off the diet-binge hamster wheel and make peace with your body and food, you’ve probably heard of Intuitive Eating.

Upon quick investigation, intuitive eating sounds to good to be true – it boasts that you can make peace with your body, make peace with food, maintain a healthy body weight, all while eating what you want when you want. However it is not too good to be true, and it does exactly what it says. What’s not to love about that?

Intuitive eating relies on using our natural bodily senses that we have had since birth. We listen to our bodies’ signals to eat when we are hungry and stop when we are not. It allows us to honour all our physiological, emotional, and social needs that food satisfies in our life without overly restricting and depriving ourselves of food.

Intuitive eating gives us the balance that allows us to respect that sometimes our bodies need a delicious brownie and sometimes our bodies also need salmon and spinach to nourish us. It rids us of harsh food dichotomies that are damaging to our overall well-being.

Intuitive eating respects that our bodies’ weight will fluctuate and adapt depending on a variety of lifestyle factors that affect our metabolisms. Our bodies deserve nourishment and respect regardless of their shape or size – sometimes we need more food and sometimes we need less. Similarly, sometimes our bodies need to store fat and sometimes they do not, and that is perfectly okay. Learning how to trust your body can be scary, but it’s a very important part of ending the cycle of being a yo-yo dieter.

Gaining weight after ending a strict diet and returning to normal intuitive eating is a perfectly normal and healthy response for a body that has been starving and deprived. Conversely for someone who has been ignoring their satiety cues it is not uncommon to lose weight once they start eating intuitively. In each scenario, our bodies are doing exactly what they need to be doing to preserve our health.

Our bodies tell us what we need and give us exactly what we need, we just need to make sure we listen to it. And no one will ever be perfect at intuitive eating, but just being “a little bit better” is the perfect place to start.

WHERE TO START

When you start eating intuitively, we first want to look at our bodily signals: hunger and satiety.

HUNGER: Hunger is our body’s signal that we need nourishment. We may feel empty, we may experience hunger pangs, we may get lightheaded, and even nauseous in cases of extreme hunger.

SATIETY: Satiety is our body’s signal that we have been nourished and can stop eating. You may experience a lack of interest in food, a loss of hunger, a feeling of fullness. In some cases we may be overly satiated and feel very full and uncomfortable.

Hunger and Satiety exists together on spectrum of varying degrees. How different levels of hunger and satiety feels will vary from person to person. It’s valuable exercises to use a number scale (most commonly zero to ten to grade your hunger.)

For example my hunger-satiety scale looks something like this:

– So hungry I feel nauseous and have a severe headache.

1 to 2 – So hungry I could eat the bark off of a tree, I am also moody and irritable.

– I need to eat very soon, I may reach for any food that is available even if it’s something I do not want.

– I am hungry and my appetite is telling me that I need to, but my hunger is not uncomfortable.

– I am neither hungry nor full, I feel neutral. I am not thing about food.

– I have eaten but I am not fully satiated, if I were going to sleep I would need a little more food or I will wake up at night with hunger pangs throughout the night.

7 to 8 – I feel well satiated, I am not uncomfortable after eating and stopping at this stage. I should not need to eat for a few hours. I could part-take in light exercise or activity after eating.

– I have eaten a little too much. I may be a little bit bloated and feel slightly uncomfortable.

10 – I have eaten way too much, I am largely bloated. My stomach hurts, I may need to lay down. I might feel sleepy from eating too much. I usually don’t want to see or smell food at this point.

Understanding and respecting your hunger and satiety cues is one of the principle foundations of intuitive eating. In order to properly be able to listen to our bodies’ cues, this means that we need to eat slowly enough for our brain to process the information our digestive system is sending to it.

It typically takes our brain 20 minutes to catch up with what is going on in our stomach. If you’re someone who eats very quickly (I know I am!) –  it may be a good exercise to try timing how long it takes you to eat. For some people even taking 10 minutes to eat a meal may be a feat, and that’s okay. There are plenty of ways to train yourself to slow down the pace of your meals. You could:

  • put your utensils down in between bites
  • chew your food thoroughly (this is good for your digestion and also the reason why our mouths have teeth 😉 )
  • share a meal with friends and family and engage in social behaviour
  • eat with your non-dominant hand or utensil you are not accustomed to (chop stick, etc.)
  • set time aside (20-30min +)  to eat your meals so you are not rushed

It may not be easy to develop the habit of slowing down and paying attention to your body’s cues, especially if you’ve been ignoring them and behaving according to external cues (i.e., I am on “x” diet, so I can only eat “y” type/amount of food – even I am hungry/overfull) for a significant amount of time. However, it is an integral part of healing your relationship with your body and with food. Starting with eating slowly and learning how to interpret your hunger and satiety signals is a great place to start.

If you want to further deeply explore the principles of Intuitive Eating and practice it daily in your day to day life you should read the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.

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3 Tips for Mindful Eating

Fat Loss, Health, Lifestyle, Mindset, Nutrition By November 25, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

“Everything moderation,” they say.

You know who I am talking about, your friends whole effortlessly lean and radiant, yet eat whatever they want. Small pieces of chocolate every day, pasta at dinner, the occasional decadent hot chocolate with whipped cream and full-fat milk. They’re never uncomfortable after eating. Their weight isn’t jumping around by 20lbs multiples times per year.

Meanwhile, you gain 10lbs just by looks at a piece of double chocolate cheesecake. You’ve been gluten-free, low-carb, calorie tracking, macrocounting dieting for God knows how long.  Eating 1400 calories religiously daily during the week, only to find yourself 10,000 calories deep into a large pizza on Friday night continuing on glutinnously raging through the weekend.

Trapping yourself in the cycle of restrict and deprive, and then bingeing as a “reward” or “treat.” Losing weight every week, gaining back the same weight every weekend, and losing that same weight again next week – punishing yourself with food restriction and excessive exercise to make up for the lack of “progress.”

The physical and psychological torments we put ourselves can be mind boggling. Clearly it’s not working. So why do we do it? Sometimes because we don’t know any better.

There is better. And we can do better. 

I want to talk to you about Mindful Eating.

Mindful eating isn’t some crazy “woo woo” trend you need to go to the Himalayas and train with the Dalai Lama to learn. In fact it’s quite simple and quite easy. You don’t need to count your calories, you don’t need to deprive yourself, and you don’t need to eliminate all the foods you love that been called “bad” by zealots who want you to believe that certain foods are holier than thou.

Mindful eating is done simply by paying attention to all the things that are happening while you are eating. Eating slowly and paying attention the sensantions, flavours, textures, and feelings that are experienced while eating your meals.

Because of the enhanced awareness we have while eating mindfully, most people who practice this are able to maintain healthy body composition while still being able to enjoy all of their favourite foods. When we slow down and focus on really experiencing our food we autoregulate our caloric-intake. This allows most people to avoid eating themselves to a point of discomfort, being overful, and taking in excess calories.

So how can you start eating mindfully? Start with these three steps.

  1. Put your phone down
    • In the words of the ever-mighty Erykah Badu: “I can make you put your phone down.” Maybe the phone isn’t your vice, but you want to avoid any distractions while you are eating your meals. Turn off the TV, put your phone down, and give your meal the undivided attention it deserves.  Being distracted while eating will take away from being able to pay attention to what is actually happening in your body. Are you hungry? Are you full? Does your food even taste good?
  2. Eat slowly
    • Next, you will want to make sure you are eating slowly. A lot of people are not even aware of how quickly they are eating. People who eat slowly tend lose and maintain weight more easily, and have better digestion, than people who do not eat slowly. You’re body physically needs time figure out when it satisfied (not full,) and eating slowly will ensure that you don’t jump the gun overeat unecessarily. The improved digestion will mainly start from taking time to properly chew your food better instead of taking larger bites and swallowing the food in large chunks, meaning your digestive system doesn’t have to work as hard to break down and process the nutrients that you are taking in. A good goal for a window of time to eat meals would be 20-30 minutes. If setting aside a half hour for a meal feels like an eternity, set a timer for 15 minutes and see if you can gradually eat a little bit slower each week.
  3. Taste your food
    • Start making mental notes about what your food actually tastes like and how you are experiencing it. Is the texture soft, chewy, crunchy, tough? How does your food taste? Sweet, savoury, salty, sour, bitter? How does your food smell? How do you physically feel while eating your food? Do you enjoy it? How could you improve it? How do you feel mentally while eating your food? Is it satisfying? These are all important things to pay attention while eating. And will allow you to truly experience your food and enjoy it significantly more.

 

So there you have it, eat what you want, but do it slowly, and savour the moment. 😉

Be like Erykah Badu, and put your phone down.

 

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Life is a dream, and I dream lucid. 

Lifestyle, Mindset By August 20, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , No Comments

There is no such thing as too much ambition. 

Small minds will tell you that there is. But there isn’t.

Greatness was never achieved by thinking small or doubting your abilities. Maybe I am overly confident in myself, but I doubt it. 

 This morning, I was having a conversation with my colleague about how I don’t have a fear of losing my job – not because I think it would be impossible for me to lose my job – but even if I did, I have the utmost belief that no matter what life throws at me I can’t be broken and I will always be okay.

Yes – I can fail, repeatedly. I can be hurt. These things happen while living a full life but these are parts of the journey, not the end of it. And it’s because of these beliefs and understandings that I don’t think there’s such a thing as being too ambitious. I recognize that life is a dream, and I dream lucid. 

My first year of college in my Intro to Psych course my professor wrote a message for our class to read: “Positive mental attitude + Goals = Success.”  This message has never served me wrong.

If you believe in yourself, your mission, and you have the tenacity of a honey badger – you can’t be stopped. 

When people tell you that your goals and dreams are too lofty, remember: no one ever broke new ground or did anything epic by thinking “Let’s be realistic,” or by self-imposing limitations. 

May your dreams and aspirations be larger than life, and may you be tenacious in achieving them. 

 

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Welcome to The “Anti-Diet”

Fat Loss, Mindset, Nutrition By August 23, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Have you tried every diet known to mankind?

You’ve done keto, paleo, Whole30, Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, IIFYM, etc. But still find yourself in a never ending cycle of food restriction and bingeing and weight cycling.

You have 10 pairs of jeans in 10 different sizes to accomodate your weight fluctuations/shape fluctuations. People will see you once and not be able to recognize you three months later because of how different you look. Not only do you change physically, but mentally you’re always between the highs and lows of “succeeding” and “failing” to change and maintain your body.

I’m here to tell you don’t have to do this. You don’t have to suffer anymore. You can have a body that love without punishing it, you can enjoy the foods you love without feeling guilty. You don’t have to be “on/off plan”, you can just be.

I understand it can be scary to let go of all the conventional wisdom you know about weight loss and changing your body. But how useful and healthy are conventional protocols if you cannot maintain or adhere to them consistently? 

The reality is that restrictive dieting is not healthy. Any diet where you overly restrict caloric intake, restrict macronutrient intake (ie. eliminating carbs, fats, protein), or obsessively dichotomize food into “good” or “bad” can be devastating to you physically or mentally.

Yo-Yo Dieting is more harmful than it is good and is highly correlated with the following:

  • Loss of lean body mass
  • Slowed metabolism
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Bradychardia (slowed heart rate)
  • Obesity
  • Developtment of Eating Disorders
  • Depression/Anxiety

In addition to this list, 95% of dieters usually regain their lost weight within 1-5 years or dieting. So why suffer for a fleeting “success?” Personally, I’m not satisfied with results that don’t last. I’m not satisfied with being restricted. I’m not satisfied with day to day suffering. And I don’t think you should be either.

If you’re tired of yo-yo dieting and gaining and losing the same 10, 20, 30, 50 lbs over and over again – it’s time to embrace The Anti-Diet.

The Anti-Diet is exaclty what you think it is. Not a diet. It’s a philosophy that helps foster healthy relationships with food, with our bodies, and allows up to optimize our physical and mental health.

The Anti-Diet is a way of eating day to day that is free of restriction. It is sustainable, effective and easy to adhere to. The Anti Diet is also known as Attuned Eating or Intuitive Eating. People who adhere to the philosophy of intuitive eating tend to have lower body weight and a greater overall sense of well-being than those who adhere to conventional dieting.

If you’re ready to be done with diets and become an Anti-Dieter or Attuned Eater…look no farther.

The Principles of The Anti-Diet

  1. Eat when you are hungry. Listen to your body’s cues. We were created to thrive and our body’s signals tell us when we need energy and when we do not. If your body is sending you hunger signals it is time to eat – if your body is not giving off hunger signals, it is not time to eat. If we delay eating despite being hungry we can lose our ability to moderate our food intake and will naturally want to overeat and make less conscientious food choices.
  2. Stop eating when you are satisfied. Closely tied into eating when you are hungry you also need to listen to your body for the signals that it is satisfied. Ideally you want to minize experiences or being painfully hungry or painfully full. Listen to your body’s signals to regulate your energy intake, you don’t need to count calories. You just need to be mindful of what you are feeling physically.hunger scale
  3. Enjoy the foods that you eat. Eating foods you enjoy brings you satisfaction. If you hate brocolli there’s not point eating 5lbs of it just because someone told you to. Explore different foods and flavours. Eat foods that satifsfy your taste buds and your cravings. When you eat intuitevly you generally won’t experience intense cravings and you won’t feel the need to binge on your favourite foods because you are always allowed to have them (which will generally make you want them less becausey they are not “off limits.”)
  4. Reject restriction and convenitonal dieting. Reject caloric restriction, reject macronutrient restriction, reject dichotimizing food into “good/bad” and “clean/dirty.” Restrictive eating promotes disordered patterns and food phobias. You are free to eat whatever you want as long as you enjoy it and it makes you feel good physically.
  5. Respect your body. Learn to appreciate your body for what it is. It’s hard to accept and embrace listening to our bodies when all we can focus on is changing them. When we can’t actively respect or enjoy our bodies it’s hard to treat them properly and healthfully. anti-diet - good body image
  6. Do physical activity and exercise you enjoy. Stop punishing yourself by doing exercise to “burn calories.” Engage in exercise because you feel good when you do it. Your workouts and physical activity should leave you feeling happy, energized and more confident. Do types of exercises you genuinely enjoy and I guarantee you will never miss a workout – you’ll build a routine that serves you and allows to exercise lifelong healthy habits.

If you’re ready to stop dieting – it is never to late to start the Anti-Diet. Habit change takes time but there’s no reason why you can’t feel great mentally and look great physically by implementing the princples of the Anti-Diet in your day to day to life. Sometimes even just being more mindful of your eating will make a big difference alone. You can let go of restriction and get ready for healthier relationships with your body and with your food.

diet


 Check out this TED Talk from 2014 on dieting and the consequences of it that most people experience.

Do you need help implementing habit change in your life? Are you ready to stop dieting and start feeling amazing every day? I offer in person and online coaching for exercise and nutrition and we can get you started on the right track today.

 

Did you find this helpful? Do you have any questions or feedback? 

Leave your thoughts in the comment section or feel free to contact me by e-mail. 

🙂

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Ladies, go with the flow! – Losing your period IS NOT NORMAL

Fat Loss, Nutrition, Training By July 12, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

Cramps, cravings, bloating headaches, tiredness with insomnia…just a few of the delights women experience as part of our “monthly gift.”

3rllis

As annoying as it may be to have your period, it’s important to remember that it is good indicator of overall health. For women who experience their period regularly – this indicates that you are in good health and all is well inside your body. Having regular periods means your period is generally around the same time every month,the duration is usually the same, the heaviness of it is usually the same, and the symptoms of it are usually the same. There are even handy apps you can download on your smart phone to help you track the time, duration and symptoms you experience. This can help you determine if your periods are regular or irregular.

*If your period is non-existent and you’re not (post-)menopausal/pregnant, then it is irregular.*

An irregular period can be caused by many things but can be an indicator of underlying problems. These causes can range from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), stress, menopause, etc. However, I want to focus on menstrual irregularity that is caused by extreme exercising and dieting. I am hearing more and more of young women all the time who are losing their periods and thinking nothing of it.

Losing your period is a sign to stop and reflect on what’s going on in your body. When a young athletic woman loses her period she may fall under the category of having Female Athlete Triad. Female Athlete Triad is often observed in women who are in sports that require or emphasize leanness and low body weight (gymnastics, distance running, ballet, swimming, diving, figure skating, physique competitions, etc.) The Female Athlete Triad consists of:

  1. Eating Disorder / Under Eating
  2. Amenorrhoea (Loss of period)
  3. Osteoporosis / Bone Loss

It may be shocking for you to see osteoporosis as part of the triad, as you would generally think of Great Aunt Sue’s tumble down the stairs that broke her wrist in the year of 1998. But I am 100% serious when I say there are 16 year old girls showing up to their doctors with fractures because they have low bone density due to under eating and over training.

This would be a really bad time to break a bone, home girl.

This would be a really bad time to break a bone.

Osteoporosis at any age doesn’t sound great to me, but is seemingly worse for someone who should be thriving health wise at a young age. Although osteoporosis, ammenorrhea and eating disorder/undereating are used to diagnose the Female Athlete Triad there is an extensive list of other not so great symptoms that accompany it.

As a young active woman you may think the idea of being period-less is amazing, but losing the ability to menstruate comes with pretty severe repercussions. You lose your period because your body is changing it’s hormonal profile in order for you to survive harsh conditions. Just because your body is surviving, does not mean it is thriving and performing optimally. Human bodies are amazingly adaptable and can survive many things – but not without consequences. When you lose the ability to menstruate due to over training and under eating, you may also find yourself experiencing:

  • fatigue and low energy
  • poor sleep quality and sleep irregularity
  • hair loss 
  • cold hands and feet (Raynaud’s disease)
  • fluctuations in weight, loss of muscle, increase in fat
  • prolonged/reduced recovery from training or injuries
  • low mood, anxiety, depression
  • low sex drive and difficulty becoming aroused
  • infertility
  • low blood pressure (especially when changing position from sitting to standing)
  • low heart rate
  • muscle spasm and cramping 
  • feeling achy
  • experiencing constipation and bloating or other digestive issues

As you can see, some of these symptoms are down right terrifying and straight up suck. I don’t know about you, but having personally experienced the Female Athlete Triad – the most distressful moment I ever had would be when I was in the shower washing my hair and I had what seemed to be a never ending supply of long strands of hair falling out tangled around my fingers…that was more terrifying to me than the fact that I was 17 year old who hadn’t had a period in three months. However, I was able to get back to normal (no more hair loss or absent periods) by limiting my exercise volume and intensity and increasing my food intake.

If you or someone you know is experiencing the Female Athlete Triad, know that it is usually reversed/treated by eating more and reducing training volume and frequency.  In some cases, hormonal treatment may also be necessary. If Female Athlete Triad is accompanied with an eating disorder or disordered eating working with professional to treat the psychological aspect is also necessary as this would probably the “make or break” factor in terms of recovering and getting back to being fully healthy mentally and physically.

 

Have you experienced the Female Athlete Triad? Do you think your periods are irregular because of your diet and exercise?

Did this ruin or make your day?

Let me know.

 

 

 

 

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The Thirst is Real – 3 Reasons Dehydration is Slowing You Down

Fat Loss, Nutrition, Training By May 26, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

The thirst is real my friends. Dehydration levels are off the charts.

Day after day, working with client after client, I can’t stress enough how important it is to hydrate adequately. I would say 90% of people I work with do not drink enough of water on a daily basis. The average person needs about 0.6oz (18mL) of water  per pound of bodyweight per day without factoring in physical activity and compensating for diuretics like coffee, tea and alcohol.

For a person weighing 175lbs that means you need to consume 105oz of water or 3.1 Litres.

Now you may not think this is a big deal – but dehydration can signicantly hamper your results in the gym whether your training to get lean or wanting to post up with some new PRs.

water meme

Fat Loss

Proper hydration is the first issue I address with any of my clients who are looking to lose weight.  Water places a highly important role in metabolizing. Without sufficient water intake you can actually reduce the rate at which you lose fat. On top of that, when in a state of dehydration your body will often mistake thirst for hunger and will cause you to eat despite not actually being hungry.

Your overall water intake will also affect the overall health and efficacy of your digestive system.

Performance

If you’re an athlete training for performance or even competing it’s also important to understand that dehydration can affect you. Being under hydrated leads to decreased blood volume, decreased circulation, decreased sweating, increased core temperature and and overall decreased cooling rate of body temperature…meaning it will be a lot harder for you to perform as an athlete.

It’s also not uncommon to experience muscle fatigue, cramping, and decrease strength while being in a dehydrated state. As muscles cannot contract as strongly or efficiently when you are dehydrated this will add to an even larger decrease in performance.

However, before you start crushing intraworkout Gatorades – I suggest you look at your overall water consumption throughout the day. That’s generally where most people drop the ball and can improve quite quickly.

Trust me, you can perform just fine without chugging down the 32 grams of sugar in a Gatorade.

Trust me, you can perform just fine without chugging down the 32 grams of sugar in a Gatorade.

Energy

Hydration also plays a key role in energy and cognitive function. Most people who are dehydrated will feel “foggy” mentally, lethargic, and be unable to concentrate properly. As you can see this also very important outside of the gym as most people have jobs that require them be functioning and fulfilling specific task that require some degree of critical thinking.

It isn’t appropriate to be showing up for work, training, and life in general in a state of fatigue where you can’t function properly.

Hydration is Fun

So you want to get leaner, you want to perform at a higher level, and you want to feel better overall and you now understand how important hydration is for that…but you’re wondering how to successfully implement it. What works well for many is setting a behavioral goal.

Visually seeing how much water you are or aren’t taking in each day can be quite impacting. I recommend having three (or more) water bottles or shakers cups (one for home, one for work, and one to keep on you in between) filled with your suggested water intake – and drinking those throughout the day.

Having them ready to go gives you little room for failure in terms of your meeting hydration needs. It’s very straightforward – so if you’re water intake needs to be 3L per day, have three 1L containers filled and ready to go – if you spread them out and drank them throughout the day, you’re doing great. If you didn’t finish them as planned – dump the extra water and start again tomorrow.

PRO-TIP: It’s important to not compensate for lack of water consumption throughout the day by chugging down a bunch all at once – as the water will bypass everything and go straight to your bladder for excretion – which defeats the purpose of drinking water to hydrate your body.

Did you find this helpful? Do you have any questions or feedback?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section or feel free to contact me by e-mail.

 

 

 

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