Simplifying Nutrition: The Daily Fruit & Veggie Chart

1 04 2014

Sometimes I come across something and I want the entire world to know about it immediately. In my experience, the majority of the population has a hard time getting enough fruits and veggies. There are a thousand reasons behind this, but I think one of the factors is that people don’t know why they should be eating certain types of produce, nor do they know how much they should be consuming.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, for those of you serious about your health, I give you the Fruit & Veggie Colour-Coded Nutrition Infographic (yep, I made that name up just now). This little chart breaks produce down into colours, explains what each category offers your body, and offers suggestions on how to get these foods into your body. Just eat one cup from each section on a daily basis, and you’ll have the beauty of a unicorn and the virility of a centaur… or something like that.

Fruit-and-Vegetable-Infographic

 

Additionally, here’s a nice little checklist you can use to track your success:

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Print these two bad boys out, toss them up on your fridge, and watch your health improve- one day at a time! As always, I’d like to credit Precision Nutrition for creating amazing resources like this for us- things like this make the process of getting healthier exponentially easier.

For more info, your know how to find me!

DW

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Postpartum Exercise

28 05 2013

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In honour of the birth of my new niece Norah, I’ve dug up a nice article on postpartum exercise. I’m obviously not an expert in the field, so I would suggest reading this article from Jill Coleman, who has much more knowledge on the subject than I do myself.

From the research I’ve done, here are some of the major points to be aware of when trying to lose weight after giving birth:

  1. Start slow and listen to your body! If something doesn’t feel right, don’t push it. Start slowly with walking and body weight movements and gradually work up to higher intensity activities like running and weight training.
  2. Don’t slash calories dramatically. While breastfeeding, a minimum of 1800 calories per day are recommended.
  3. Be PATIENT. Most women will gain around 30 lbs during pregnancy, and about 20 of those pounds will come off within the first 4-6 weeks after giving birth. After these 20 pounds are gone, weight can be lost at a healthy rate of about 1 lb per week; which is much slower than the weight comes of within those first few weeks. Be patient, and remember that although it feels slow, losing 1 lb per week will have you back in shape in no time.

    ... And now you can exercise!

    … And now you can exercise!

  4. Do your best to sleep as often as possible. If baby is napping, you should try to do the same.
  5. Don’t stress about finding a large chunk of time for exercise, as this will rarely happen. Try to get your exercise in small chunks throughout the day. Have 5 minutes? Do a few sets of body weight squats. Another 5 later in the day? A few sets of push-ups and lunges. Roll with the punches and it will all add up in the end!
  6. Once you are feeling good and ready for weight training, make sure that weights and not cardio are the focus of your workouts; cardio will make you smaller, but weights will get you the shape you desire! Once you’re ready for weights, this plan is a good place to start! In other words, cardio can get the fat loss process started, but weights will ultimately be the tool to get you to your goals!
  7. More than anything, the focus should be on the overall health of mom and baby. You have the rest of your life to get in shape. Enjoy these first few months with your newborn with a focus on eating the right things and staying stress-free. Gradually, you’ll have more time for exercise!

In the end, the postpartum period of life isn’t all that different. During this time it is simply more important to start slowly when getting back into exercise and especially critical to listen to your body. With a focus on quality over quantity you’ll gradually get back into your normal routine and regain your pre-pregnancy body- or better yet, a new and improved version 2.0!

For more information on postpartum exercise, please feel free to contact an expert!… or reach out to me and we’ll tackle the subject together! 🙂

Happy baby-making!

DW





An Eye-Opener on Liquid Calories

15 04 2013

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One of my readers contacted me last week and brought my attention to an article that was recently published over in the UK. Before going any further, let’s remember 2 key points that I’ve mentioned in the past:

  1. If you are trying to lose weight and/or burn fat, you should avoid consuming liquid calories
  2. Sugar is killing us, and is largely responsible for most of the chronic health problems in our society (moreso than saturated fat and other scapegoats)

I’ve touched on these points many times, but in case the message hasn’t hit home, please take a look at the article on The 15 WORST sugary drinks in Britain. The pictures (courtesy of www.dred.com) say far more than writing ever could. Here are some of most shocking findings of the article, and some of the most impressive (read: disgusting) pictures:

  • Single serving of white grape juice (1 cup/250 mL) contains the same amount of sugar as four Crispy Cream doughnuts

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  • Starbucks venti white chocolate mocha with whipped cream as much sugar as ten bowls of Golden Grahams (and as I mentioned a few days ago, many breakfast cereals contain a crazy amount of sugar)
  • Not a coffee drinker? Starbucks venti soy vanilla spice hot chocolate has as much sugar as five Kellogg’s strawberry Pop Tarts

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  • Burger King large chocolate milkshake has over 100 g of sugar, equivalent to an entire strawberry cream pie

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  • Bottle of Pret freshly squeezed orange juice (500 mL) has as much sugar as thirteen oatmeal cookies

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  • Rockstar punched energy & guava (500 mL) has the same amount of sugar as twenty chocolate chip cookies

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I’ll stop there, but I think you get the point. It’s hard enough to try to calculate the number of calories we get from our meals when we eat out; sticking to water at least ensures that we aren’t taking in a gratuitous amount of one of the most harmful “nutrients” on the planet.

Before signing off, I’d just like to take a parting shot at fruit juices. As I pointed out above, both grape juice and orange juice have a crazy amount of sugar (even the “no sugar added” types). Apple juice, grapefruit juice, and almost any other fruit juice will have the same problem.  “Fruit juice” should really be relabeled as “Liquid fruit sugar”, because that is exactly what it is. Whole fruits are extremely healthy and nutritious and should be included in almost all diets. Fruit is indeed full of sugar (which is why even fruit should be limited for those of us looking to lose fat), but it is also full of valuable fibre and nutrients. Fruit juice is sugar, with a few nutrients, but leaves most of the awesomeness behind. Again, and as I’ve been preaching- stick to consuming foods in their natural state. Fruit juice isn’t necessarily a processed food, but it the worst part of fruit and is packaged in a more convenient and easy-to-consume medium (liquid); sounds like a processed food to me! The sooner we all start viewing fruit juice as being equal to soda (it is), the sooner we can get away from the myth that fruit juice is “part of a healthy breakfast” and “a great way to start the day”. False. Morning insulin spikes will ruin your day. And make you fat. And sick. Stick to water, coffee, and tea and you’ll but much better off!

That’s all for now, hope everyone had a great weekend! Happy Monday!

DW





A Must-read for Parents and Parents-to-be

12 04 2013

46b2672093fb44fea1fbc6efaae52671This morning I stumbled across a phenomenal article by my friends over at Precision Nutrition, who continue to pump out some of the most useful and valuable nutrition information on the planet. This article, All About Nutrition For Kids, is an absolutely must-read for parents, parents-to-be, or anyone that may someday start a family. There is one major take-home point that I’d like to elaborate on, but for now, here are some of the highlights of the article:

 

  • Eating patterns built during childhood serve as a foundation for life.  What we eat early on shapes brain development, metabolism, and overall health. Right now, the top three sources of calories for 2-3 year olds in the US are milk, fruit juice, and pasta. In other words, carbohydrates, the most useless of all macronutrients. To boot, most fruit juices are basically pure sugar and the main ingredient of most pasta is enriched white flour. Sigh.
  • In 1980, only 7% of American kids aged 6-11 were obese. In 2010, it was 18% — nearly one in five. Now, about one-third (33%) of U.S. kids are classified as overweight or obese.
  • Once a body is overweight at a critical developmental period, it’s very hard to change. Health and physical activity habits established in early life will have effects for decades to come.
  • Developing brains need quality nutrients. Poor nutrition also contributes to child mood and behavioral problems, such as depression and ADHD, even aggressiveness and violence.
  • One study found that 8-12 year old children consumed an average of 109 mg of caffeine per day. Assuming these children are not drinking coffee, this means that the average kid drinks about 3 colas a day.

How can you help improve your kids’ nutrition?

  • Choose whole, unprocessed foods. Avoid processed foods that are specifically marketed to kids. Just because certain foods are designed and marketed for children does NOT make them appropriate choices for a growing body. Many (read: MANY) common breakfast cereals contain more sugar than candy and baked goods. Don’t believe me? Read this report. Also, remember when I said that eggs and fish oil are important for adults? Well, they’re even more critical for the growth and development of children. Introduce these foods early and often!
  • Incorporate vegetables and fruits into kids’ daily diet.
  • Try to get nutrients from a variety of whole-foods diet. If your child is a picky eater, supplementation with vitamins and minerals should not be overlooked.
  • Help kids regulate their appetite and hunger cues with whole foods and mindful eating.
  • Take the lead. You’re the parent.
  • Adopt healthy habits yourself, so that kids have a role model for their own behavior.

SomebodyThinkOfTheChildren

General Guidelines

While it might seem easiest to focus on daily servings and numbers, it’s smarter to allow for flexibility.  Step back and consider the big picture.  A few days without 3-5 servings of vegetables is okay.

In general, aim for the following:

  • Vegetables – 3-5 servings/day (serving size = fist)
  • Fruit – 2-3 servings/day (serving size = fist)
  • Beans/legumes/meat/eggs – 2-3 servings/day (serving size = palm)
  • Whole grains – 2-3 servings/day (serving size = fist)
  • Nuts/seeds/olives/avocado/coconut – 2-3 servings/day (serving size = thumb)

Summary & recommendations

How much should kids eat?  They should eat until they are no longer hungry.

What should kids eat? A mix of mostly whole, minimally processed foods.

What should kids drink?  Mostly water and unsweetened teas.

How to ensure healthy bowel movements?  Adequate fluid, physical activity, and whole plant foods (vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds).

The #1 thing you can do to help your kids?  Adopt healthy habits yourself.

My summary does not do justice to this article. Please go back and read it yourself if you haven’t already done so. Make mental notes. Make physical notes. Print it off and read it every night before bed. There are so many valuable tips and great pieces of advice on how to get your kids to eat right, stay healthy, and avoid obesity and developmental issues. Before signing off however, I’d like to elaborate on what I consider to be the most important take-home message of the article:

Adopt healthy habits yourself.

If you’ve ever been around children, you’ll know that they are information sponges and will try to recreate anything they see. If we as adults cannot be responsible enough to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, how can we expect our children to do so? The time to change our eating habits is now. The more we educate ourselves on proper nutrition, the better we’ll all be able to raise our children healthier than the current generation that is subsisting on useless, harmful, processed carbohydrates. If your child sees you eating vegetables, she’ll be intrigued to do the same. If your child sees you being physically active, he’ll want to be active as well. The exact same goes for when you’re laying on the couch, eating a bag of chips and drinking a can of soda. The choice is yours. You can either be a role model and give your kids a chance, or you can be a part of the problem.

Good parenting is the first step to stopping this trend.

Good parenting is the first step to stopping this trend.

For more information on nutrition and healthy living, you know how to find me.

Happy Friday!

DW





Exercise Makes Kids Smarter

23 03 2013

It’s time for a Saturday morning rant. I stumbled upon this article from the NY Times, which mentions that Physical Education classes continue to be cut in the US. I haven’t heard about much of this happening here in Canada, but I could be wrong (I don’t pay much attention to the news; friends please tell me this isn’t happening). Cutting out time for children to get physical activity is absolute madness.

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This prompted me to do a bit of digging and, sure enough, there are studies out there (more than one even) that show that improved academics in children correlate directly with increased fitness levels. The research is preliminary, but let’s look at what we know:

  • Almost 60% of adult Canadians are either overweight or obese
  • In 1978, 15% of children were overweight or obese.  In 2007, Statistics Canada found that 29% of adolescents had unhealthy weights. By 2040, up to 70% of adults aged 40 years will be either overweight or obese.
  • Unhealthy weights lead to health problems like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. In 2005, the total cost of obesity to Canadians was $4.3 billion.
  • Overweight and obese people die on average 3 to 7 years earlier than those with healthy weights, and usually only after burdening the health care system for years.
  • Besides its obvious value in fighting obesity, physical education has also been linked in some studies to improved academic outcomes.
  • One study found that physically fit children had a 2.4 times greater chance of passing math tests and a 2.2 times greater chance of passing reading tests compared with aerobically unfit children.
  • Physical activity can raise self-esteem, helping to prevent anxiety disorders and depression

Translation:

  • We are fat
  • Our kids are getting fatter
  • Our fatness is causing a huge drain on the healthcare system (hurting everyone, even healthy people) and is cutting lives short
  • Fitness has been linked to intelligence
  • The sky is freakin’ blue
Just sayin'.

Just sayin’.

We need to let our kids play. We need to get them out of the house, out of the class, and encourage them to run around. Both free play and structured physical activity should have a place in the lives of our children. More research needs to be done to determine the “Why?” (Does breaking up class time with physical activity enable children to concentrate better in class? Does physical activity teach cognitive skills that classroom teaching cannot?), but the message is clear: exercise provides nothing but benefits for the futures of our children, and the future of our country.

DW





Nutrition for Infants

13 02 2013

babyaI’m away for work this week and my schedule is pretty hectic, so the posts are short and sweet.

As you know, I’m a Precision Nutrition (PN) certified Nutrition Coach and believe that PN offers some of the best nutrition information on the planet.  Their Lean-eating program is top-notch, but they recently pumped out a piece on Nutrition for Infants that is an absolute must-read for any new parents or parents-to-be.

The first few years of a child’s life are absolutely critical to the development of who they will become, and good nutrition is the foundation of this development. I try to post information that is applicable to the general population, but this article is simply too informative to keep hidden. Even for those of us without kids, this article gives you some great insight into what the human body needs from the beginning and can help put into perspective how the food we put into our bodies ultimately affects our own growth and development.

As always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any specific questions!

DW