Luana Flacco, R.H.N.

Is Everything You Know About Healthy Eating Wrong?

What do you know about healthy eating?

There is so much nutrition information and diet advice on the internet and in magazines!

And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you.  Right?

Well, maybe…

Even though how much you eat is important to some extent (see my previous article on Three Ways to Avoid Overeating), this has gotten way too much attention. While this does affect your weight and energy level, it's certainly not the “holy grail” of health. 

Let's focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.

What you eat and drink


The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important and is only part of the story. 

Don't get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that's simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone. 

You can eat a ton of veggies and it will be so much better than eating a ton of bread and pasta! 

Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods).  This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.

Every day this is what you should aim for:

  • A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack.  You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Consume all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).  It is the amino acids you are wanting to absorb that build your muscles.
  • Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones).  There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” (e.f.a.’s) - you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your healthy salads.

Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible.  You don't need to overdo it here.  

Just make sure you're getting some high-quality fats.

How you eat and drink

Also pay attention to how you eat and drink.

Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.

Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues?

Do you drink your food?

When it comes to how you eat let's first look at “mindful eating”.

Mindful eating means:

  • take smaller bites
  • eat slowly, chew thoroughly
  • and savour every bite.

Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.

This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.

This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. 

Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full? Yup!

We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.

And what about smoothies when you are on-the-go?

Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!).

A green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack. 

And don't gulp it down too fast.  Try to chew a little bit to mix your saliva enzymes with it before you swallow.

If your smoothies don't fill you up like a full meal does, try adding in ground chia seeds and some almond butter or slices of avocado.

Summary:

Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.


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Is Your Changing Metabolism the Cause of Your Fatigue?

Photo by Maaike Nienhuis on Unsplash

​Photo by Maaike Nienhuis on Unsplash

Remember your metabolism is the way your body uses nutrients and oxygen for energy and everything you do.

It seems as we get older, this process seems to slow down.  This affects your energy, body temperature and physical fitness.

You may feel tired, cold or feel that you've gained weight.  Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”.   You may be convinced that your metabolism is slow.

Since I have turned 52, I have noticed a huge difference this year.  There is no just letting myself go.  It takes real work now to feel good.

Why does this happen?  Why do metabolic rates slow down?

What can slow your metabolism?

There are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories).

But don't worry – we know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out”!  In fact it's so complicated I'm only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down.

Examples of common reasons why metabolic rates can slow down:

  1. low thyroid function
  2. your history of dieting
  3. your size and body composition
  4. your activity level
  5. lack of sleep

I will briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.

Low thyroid hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism.  When it produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down.  The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active.   Ideally it should work to keep your metabolism just right.  But there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.  Things like autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium) for example.

Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested.

Your history of dieting

When people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down.  This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food. 

While dieting can lead to a reduction in amount of fat it unfortunately can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have.  As you know more muscle means faster resting metabolic rate.

Tip: Make sure you're eating enough food to fuel your body without overdoing it.

Your size and body composition

In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates.  This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one. 

However, you already know that gaining weight is rarely the best strategy for increasing your metabolism.

Muscles that actively move and do work need energy.  Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat.  This means that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have. 

Tip: Do some weight training to help increase your muscle mass.

Which leads us to...

Your activity level

Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you're also getting hotter.

Even little things can add up.  Walking a bit farther than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day.

Tip:  Incorporate movement into your day.  Also, exercise regularly.

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.  The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Losing sleep also affects your energy and weight gain leading to major fatigue issues.

Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night. 

CLICK HERE to join my support group for tired women.

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Does What You Eat Make a Difference?

It's not how much you eat but what


Does what you know to eat make you tired and fat?

There is so much nutrition information and diet advice on the internet and in magazines!

And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you.  Right?

Well, maybe…

Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat.  This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it's certainly not the “holy grail” of health. 

Let's focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.

What you eat and drink

The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important and is only part of the story. 

Don't get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that's simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone. 

When the intense focus on how much we ate didn't work in the long-run, it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn't we?  You can eat a ton of veggies and it will be so much better than eating a ton of bread and pasta!

You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat but don't forget to also pay attention to what you eat. 

Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods).  This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.

Every day this is what you should aim for:

A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack.  You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Consume all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).  It is the amino acids you are wanting to absorb that build your muscles.

Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones).  There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” (e.f.a.’s) - you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your healthy salads. 

Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. Eat your organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible.  You don't need to overdo it here.  Just make sure you're getting some high-quality fats.

How you eat and drink

Also pay attention to how you eat and drink.

Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.

Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues?

Do you drink your food?

When it comes to how you eat let's first look at “mindful eating”.

Mindful eating means:

take smaller bites

eat slowly, chew thoroughly

and savour every bite. 

Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.

This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.

This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. 

Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full? Yup!

We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.

And what about smoothies when you are on-the-go?

Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!).

A green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack. 

And don't gulp it down too fast.  Try to chew a little bit to mix your saliva enzymes with it before your swallow

If your smoothies don't fill you up like a full meal does, try adding in ground chia seeds and some almond butter or slices of avocado.

Summary:

Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.


References:

http://summertomato.com/wisdom-wednesday-salad-dressing-is-your-friend

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-reasons-you-are-not-losing-weight/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

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What is Metabolism?


This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.

You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight.  But what exactly does this all mean? And how is it related to fatigue?

Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body.  It's how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive.  And without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:

  • Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
  • Allow activities you can't control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
  • Allow storage of excess energy for later.

So when you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.

Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”. 

Metabolic rate

This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).

The calories you eat can go to one of three places:

  1. Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
  2. Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
  3. Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate:

 “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) -- how much energy your body uses when you're not being physically active.

“total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) --  measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.

What affects your metabolic rate?

In a nutshell: a lot!

The first thing you may think of is your thyroid.  This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism.  Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you'll burn.

But that's not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.

How big you are counts too! 

Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!

As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does.  So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be.  Even when you're not working out.

This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program.  Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.

The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don't want to happen.  So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.

Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they're doing “work”.  This type of exercise for you would look like walking, swimming, biking or climbing stairs.  Other aerobic exercises could make you more tired if you are suffering from fatigue at this time.   So best to stick with gentle aerobic exercise.

The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!

Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food.  This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).

You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently. 

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%.  By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.

Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow.  By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.

And don't forget the mind-body connection.  There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.  If you lack good quality sleep, you can gain weight because your metabolic rate slows down. Lack of sleep stresses our bodies.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.

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Three Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals

Did you know that overeating can cause an energy drain and make you feel very lethargic for the rest of the day?

I have been to family gatherings and watched a couple people pass out on the couch from eating too much food.

It is literally their body shutting them down to have the energy to process the food.

This is the time of year for eating out, traveling and spending time with friends and fun food!

Don’t you just love those summer backyard BBQ’s and annual potlucks?

And it’s not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people,

It is way too easy (and common) to indulge at these special gatherings.

But it doesn’t always stop there.

Sometimes we overeat on regular days.  Or at regular meals.  Or All. The. Time.

I have to admit that I do not eat as much in the summer as in the fall and winter.  How about you?

Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals.

(challenge: turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)

Tip #1: Start with some water

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it’s too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.

But did you know that it’s possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger?  Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.

Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten.  And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (…just sayin’).

Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.

Win-win!

Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”

You’ve heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?

This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion.

Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.

Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.

This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.

When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.

So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.

Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.

Tip #3: Start with the salad

You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.

But don’t start there.

(Don’t worry, you can have some…just after you’ve eaten your salad).

Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they’re full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.

Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller.  They’re “satiating”.

And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you’re about to indulge in a large meal.

Summary:

Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.

 

Join my private Facebook Group for Tired Women Over 40 ===> Click Here

 

Luana

 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-of-water/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

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