Watch a child eat and in that experience one will witness the most organic definition of intuitive eating. If they're young enough to not be negatively influenced by cultural rules around food, they tend to have a very natural ability to intuitively eat. A two year old knows when she's hungry, she stops when she's full, and she gets up from a meal and moves on with her life. She never thinks "Oh no, I just ate a cheese stick now I need to run for 20 minutes to make up for it!"
We all know that dieting doesn't work for long-term success. The research is really clear about that. Intuitive eating, however, has been shown to improve health in the long run by improving one's relationship with food. Intuitive eating is a philosophy of eating which is based on the belief that one is born knowing how to eat. That includes knowing when one is hungry and full, knowing one's taste preferences, and knowing how one's body feels after making a food choices. Many people, for various reasons, lose trust in this natural intuitive eater at an early age.
Does intuitive eating take a lot of self-control? Consider the question in a different way. Intuitive eating is not about willpower or self-control. Instead, it's about trusting the body to give us accurate information about the what, when, and how much to eat. This ability is learned after practicing intuitive eating over time. And intuitive eating is just that, it is a practice. It takes a lifetime to learn all the ins and outs of one's own body's wisdom.
Tips for intuitive eating
1) Find satisfaction in your eating experience. People have this idea that eating is supposed to be boring and maybe that food is just for fuel. Enjoy your food. Find pleasure in the experience. Enjoy the myriad of tastes, revel in the experience. That is ok. 2) But in order to find pleasure and satisfaction with our food, we need to pay attention to the eating environment. You'll find more satisfaction when there is a lack of emotional tension and stress in your eating environment. Experiment with clearing off the dinner tables, turning off the TV, try ignoring your e-mails and other notifications while eating. Ask yourself, "If I really sat down to slow down and enjoy that (salad), would it be satisfying to me?" Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it's no. 3) Give yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods. This one is a hard one for most people. It's important to make peace with all foods, so no food is forbidden. In our diet-centered culture, you have likely absorbed judgments about "good" and "bad" food, and when and how you should eat it. This labeling of food and the restrictions that comes as a result often creates a sense of deprivation. And often this feeling of deprivation leads to a period of overeating, which then leads to shame, which often leads to another period of overeating, and so the cycle continues. 4) Honour your hunger. When you feel stomach hunger, your body is asking for food. Despite what our culture tells us, this is not something that you need to ignore. Sometimes there's even a feeling of virtue when we're able to ignore hunger. But in intuitive eating, you are allowed to honour it. You are allowed to answer your body's request for food. 5) In the same respect, you also want to honour your fullness. When you feel satisfied, it is ok to get up from a meal. Your past history may tell you that you have to clean the plate in order to not waste money. But you are allowed to listen to your body before listening to food rules. You can leave food on the plate; that honours your body telling you that it has had enough. 6) Be compassionate toward yourself. When the world around you is dieting and you are being bombarded with the latest diet craze, it's easy to get pulled in. You may feel like you aren't enough the way you are, or you may get caught up with society's definition of acceptable beauty. You can never create fulfillment through deprivation. It can never work. You will never have your needs met by way of deprivation. Acceptance and long-term success happen through fulfillment. When you can listen to your body and understand its needs, you are on the true path of healing and happiness.
Jodi Marie Brisco is a registered intuitive eating counsellor in Greater Sudbury.
Fat loss vs. weight loss
By Adele Fawcett, ROHP
Canadians are getting fat!
Half of adult men and women are considered overweight and, yearly, obesity rates are rising in adult populations and even in children! Carrying extra body fat negatively impacts health. One of the biggest risk factors for disease and pre-mature death is being overweight and obese. The cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, stroke, various cancers (prostate, breast, gastrointestinal, endometrial), immune dysfunction, joint pain and arthritis, affecting our health and quality of life are deeply connected to the dietary choices, lifestyle and exercise habits within our culture.
Whole industries, and even entertainment, thrive on our insecurities and fears as we struggle with our weight issues, our resulting poor health, and our constant attempts to drop a few more pounds. The good news is that just as our dietary choices, lifestyle and exercise habits can negatively impact our health the reverse is also true. Diet, lifestyle and exercise can also reduce extra fat, creating better health and making disease preventable, manageable, improvable and even reversible in many cases! Your health is in your choices.
This column is a regular new feature in Alive+Fit and will provide you with the information you need to implement positive changes in your dietary choices, lifestyle and exercise. This both is and isn't a weight loss feature. A major key to good health is in reducing unhealthy body fat levels. So, for conventions sake, this is a weight loss feature. However, we are going beyond 'diets and weight loss programs' and are discussing lifestyle changes that take a holistic approach to supporting your health. We will look at stress management, improving dietary choices, exercise, as well as addressing metabolic issues affecting health and hindering fat loss, like insulin resistance and hormone imbalances.
We never measure up to the images we find in magazines, movies, commercials and television shows. The images we see don't reflect the lives we have or the bodies we live with. They make it normal to look outside of ourselves for answers and are disempowering to our choices. Unfortunately, we become less able to meet our own needs and unrealistic about our bodies and our weight. Suddenly, losing weight is the answer to unhappiness! So we get fixated on losing 10 pounds, 25 pounds, 40 pounds without having any actual idea of how much fat we are carrying in comparison to how much bone, muscles and organs makes up our bodies. We are so focused on our appearance and losing weight, by any means necessary, and often dangerously, that we forget about our health and essential information like what our bodies need to build and maintain life! Just because you are losing weight doesn't mean you are losing fat and sometimes half that 40 pounds you've got your eye on losing is muscle, colon contents or water. Knowing your body composition is a way to take charge of your weight, in a healthy and realistic way.
Determining Body Composition
Beware of guaranteed weight loss programs. A promise to help you lose 40 pounds without taking a measure of your body fat percentage first, so that you know how much lean tissue you have (bones, muscles and organs) can be dangerous. You can't know how much weight you can safely lose without knowing how much of your weight is fat.
You will need a scale to measure your weight; and either a scale or a hand held device that uses a low level electrical current to measure your body fat as a percentage; and a calculator.
Step 1: start with your total weight: Step 2: find out your body fat percentage as mentioned above (not your BMI): A healthy Body Fat percentage for women is between 20 to 30 30 per cent, for men it is between 10 and 20 per cent. Step 3: multiply your weight by your body fat percentage to get your fat mass, which provides how many pounds of fat you are carrying: Step 4: subtract your fat mass from your total weight to get your lean mass: Your lean mass is not your ideal weight and your fat mass is not how much weight you can safely lose. You can use this information to find how much body fat you can lose to reach a personal healthy weight. If we use the middle of the healthy body fat percentage ranges, so for women 25 per cent and for men 15 per cent, we can calculate an acceptable long-term weight loss goal. Step 5: take your lean weight and divide it by three for women and five for men: Step 6: add that number to your lean weight: This is a personal healthy weight. Step 7: subtract your healthy weight from your total weight to find out your acceptable fat loss in lbs:
of a 175lb woman at 35% body fat 175 x 35% = 61.25 lbs fat mass, 175 - 61.25 = 113.75 lbs lean mass, 113.75÷3 = 37.92, 113.75 + 37.92 = 151.67 lbs healthy weight. So, 175lbs – 152 lbs = a healthy fat loss goal of 23lbs. This is the first step to re-framing how you think about your body, your weight and your health.
Next, it is vital to become more aware and conscious of your body, how your body is feeling and how you feel about your body.
Your body is your companion for your whole life and you need to pay attention to how you feel living in it. Instead of focusing on your weight as the cause or solution to all of your problems, take some time to identify how your body is feeling. Are you achy and stiff? Are you slow and sluggish? Are you sleeping well and feeling refreshed in the morning? Are you happy? Create better body awareness by checking in with yourself periodically to answer these questions. Are there things you are doing that contribute to how you are feeling, that get blamed on your weight when it might be that you are stretching yourself too thin? This is an important way to measure how well you are responding to dietary and lifestyle changes.
Healthy weightloss: Fuel up with protein
By Adele Fawcett, RHN
Have you ever noticed how mean you can be to yourself? How much of your thoughts are taken up by criticizing yourself, putting yourself down and being your own bully? Most of us don't talk to our friends the same way we talk to ourselves. For our friends we get to be cheerleaders, supportive, loving and kind. We take the time to talk them out of their own self-hate and encourage them to recognize their strength, their greatness and their inner beauty! When did you stop extending the same courtesy to yourself? Have you ever treated yourself with kindness and compassion?
Your body is three dimensional and will never look to you like a magazine picture. Most actors and models have the same kind of body shapes and are processed and then presented as ideals to sell you things. These representations do not often show or celebrate the huge variety of body shapes and sizes that exist. This can create an inability to recognize how YOU are beautiful, how amazing your body is as it moves you, and lets you connect to the world around you. Our bodies are an easy target for our insecurities in the face of this and our image of ourselves becomes distorted, creating mean self-talk and a constant need to 'lose weight'.
Re-connect with your body. Learn to appreciate all it is capable of doing for you and start being more conscious of your negative self-talk. Experience how your body feels throughout the day and pay attention to cues to let you know what state of health you are in. If you feel sluggish, tired, have low concentration, lack of focus your body might not be getting the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and fit. A healthy body is more efficient at keeping excess fat from accumulating. Your weight can be a reflection of your overall health. Make sure you provide your body with the nutrients needed to stay healthy and reduce body fat.
Our bodies are formed of very complex structures. We are made up of a large variety of building blocks the largest being water. Water makes up just over 75 per cent of our total tissues. Water levels maintain energy levels and even metabolism. A two per cent drop in water levels can cause poor short term memory. A five per cent drop in water levels causes 25 to 30 per cent loss in energy and the metabolism to slow. And, 15 per cent drop in water levels can cause death. Maintaining adequate hydration is critical to creating health, eliminating wastes, insuring a healthy metabolism and keeping body fat regulated. Drink your ideal amount of water daily by taking your body weight in pounds and dividing it by two. This is the number of ounces of water to get to keep adequately hydrated. Reduce dehydrating beverages and substances to keep your water levels healthy. Substances that are dehydrating include diuretic medications, as well as caffeine and alcohol, which will require two glasses of water to replace the net water loss to their consumption. More water should be consumed during, pregnancy, exercise, hot weather, shock, trauma, stress, sweating, vomiting and diarrhoea. Water, caffeine-free herbal teas, and diluted unsweetened juices are all hydrating.
After water, our muscles, organs, skin, hair, bones and even functional molecules are made of proteins. Protein provides amino acids which support the building and repair of our tissues, support the function of our immune systems and manufacture and manage our hormones. Many of these hormones are directly responsible for fuelling the metabolism, managing stress, insuring balanced mood, allowing sleep and even control appetite. The right amount and quality of protein assists the body in burning fat more easily.
Most people are not eating ideal amounts of protein to support their body tissues especially when they are more physically active. The more active you are the more protein you require for tissue repair and stress recovery. Most convenient and fast foods are carbohydrates and not very high in protein, so many people don't get the protein they need by making food choices that don't provide it. Breakfast especially is an important time to eat protein. Most breakfast foods, like toast, bagels, cereal, fruit and muffins are predominantly carbohydrates. Eating these instead of protein deprives the body with an essential nutrient early in the day to keep metabolism and energy levels running. Protein is found in fish, chicken, meats, eggs, legumes and in smaller amounts in dairy, nuts and seeds. Protein powders made from whey (milk), soy, brown rice, hemp and other food sources can be a helpful way to get protein early in the day. When choosing a product make sure it does not have any artificial sweeteners, colours, flavours or unnecessary ingredients.
Protein requirements are based on lean weight, which is the weight of the body without fat, and on the level of physical activity a person engages in. In the absence of tools to measure lean weight and charts providing protein requirements, you can estimate a healthy intake range. Multiply your weight by 0.6 and then your weight by 0.75. This is the range of grams of protein you should be aiming for (Example 150lbs person would be 90g to 112g of protein daily). Organizing your meals around your protein needs is a good habit to support healthy weight loss and weight maintenance. Fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds and whole grains can then be added to provide the other essential nutrients needed by your body.
Try to be kind and compassionate with yourself. Catch yourself when you are being mean and focus on your health as your weight loss motivation. Make changes to your diet to ensure you are getting adequate amounts of water and protein to help you burn fat more efficiently and encourage optimal health!
Adele Fawcett, BA hon, RHN, is a registered nutritional consulting practitioner and registered orthomolecular health practitioner at the Valley and New Sudbury Nutrition Centre. Questions and comments can be directed to valleynutritionQ@gmail.com
Shaping Up Shedding Excuses
By Sari Huhtala
In a matter of just six months, Stef Paquette has gone from being a self-proclaimed "Fat lazy guy who was always too busy to play with his kids, but never too busy to have a beer and a cigarette," to somewhat of a fitness fanatic whose kids are starting to wonder how they can tap into his reservoir of energy.
His after-work routine has evolved from deciding which frozen meal to microwave, plopping in front of the television to chow down, then getting his daily exercise walking outside to have a cigarette to being busy in the kitchen, chopping up veggies to go with the homemade meal he's prepared, enjoying mealtime with his wife and three kids, then heading outdoors to cycle with the family.
"I was a hockey player for 15 years, but (before beginning this journey) I couldn't remember the last time I exercised or even had enough energy to play with the kids at the end of the day," Paquette says.
Steered by sheer will power and a personal goal of losing weight to be able to audition for a television show coming to Sudbury, Paquette managed to quit smoking, drinking and shed 50 pounds and did, in fact, audition. His weight dropped from 283 pounds to 233 pounds, he now fits into a large size T-shirt rather than double extra large, and his pant size is down from 42 inches to 34 inches.
"I figured there's no bigger show of commitment than a lifestyle change, and I wanted the directors to see that I was committed," Paquette, a Sudbury-based professional musician and radio host, says.
What's the secret to successful weight loss? Well, the secret is there is no secret. There's no quick fix, he says. It's about putting an end to making excuses and just doing the things in your life that support healthy, active living. Even his choice of beverage for hydration was wrapped around excuses.
"I never really liked vegetables so I would drink a lot of juice, saying I was getting the same vitamins from the juice so I didn't have to eat vegetables."
"My lifestyle was all about excuses," Paquette says. "I'd think, I'm stressed so I need a cigarette. I've had a big day, so I need a drink. I'm on the go, so I need to eat at a fast-food restaurant."
Create an environment that supports your goal of losing weight, surround yourself with the right kind of people and make a commitment to stay on track.
"You know, it sucks to cut out pasta and cookies and all that stuff, but what doesn't suck is people looking at you and saying how great you look," and feeling energized for the entire day, not to mention not being riddled with health problems, he says. "In the past, I loved my crappy food too much to want to give it up to lose weight."
Gone is his sleep apnea. There's no more lethargy; no more "major breathing problems" and respiratory infections to contend with every three months. It's all disappeared, Paquette says.
What has his commitment to healthy active living meant for the home environment? Well, one thing is for certain, the kids, ages five, 11 and 14, can no longer use the excuse that daddy's not eating his vegetables so nor should they need to eat their veggies.
They collectively decided on family resolutions at the start of the year, vowing not to bring sugar cereals or white bread into the home. They eat together during meal times and cycle whenever possible.
"When you hear these things about leading by example, until you do it you don't really realize you are your child's role model."
"Parents need to realize that their kids aren't the ones doing the groceries; you are," Paquette says. "Sometimes you hear parents say 'My kids drink too much pop.' Who do you think buys the pop? As a parent you control the food that comes into your home. If there's no pop in the house, the kids will soon realize they have to drink water or milk when they're thirsty." He introduced exercise into the fold right at the beginning, working with a program designed by a personal trainer whom he barters with in exchange for marketing services, and engages in outdoor morning fitness boot camps, baseball and cycling. His personal goal to lose weight led to a workplace wellness weight loss challenge that helped create an environment that supports healthy living in the workplace. Supporting and receiving support from colleagues helped all the employees with their weight loss goals. One employee had a habit of drinking two litres of soft drinks daily. He and his colleague made a pact that if his colleague brings in a regular soft drink, Paquette will dump it down the drain. Seems harsh, but it works, says Paquette. They turned their weight loss challenge into a fundraiser, with each employee collecting pledges – a minimum of .50 cents per pound lost, that were donated to five local charities. Collectively, the French radio station Le Loup, where Paquette is employed, raised $4500 and lost a combined 163 pounds.
Tips for weight loss success
1) Find a partner to workout with, to motivate each other. Be sure to share your successes with your partner, regardless of how minute you feel the success was. If you managed to drive past Tim Hortons without stopping to buy the coffee and donut you ordinarily do, then that's a success to be celebrated. 2) Ask your spouse, friend or motivating partner to write down your excuses. Every time you make an excuse have them write it down. Then read the excuses a week later. You'd be surprised how many times you made an excuse and didn't do what you had intended on doing. When you read the excuses later on, you are able to see it more clearly. 3) Don't stock the pantry or fridge with processed foods or junk foods. It's hard to stay away from junk food if it's staring at you every time you open the cupboard. 4) Make family/group or workplace resolutions, like deciding that this year there will be no more pop in the house, or the workplace. 5) Plan your meals and shopping, and set aside time to prepare meals. It's challenging to follow a healthy diet if you haven't planned what food you'll have access to. 6) Find a way to add more physical activity into your day. Walk or ride a bike whenever possible, join a sports club or find an activity that you really enjoy.
My life would be perfect if only…I won the lottery, I could swap bodies with a much younger version of me, I lost 50lbs, I had more energy, I found more time…
The Negative Thought Pattern:
My life would be perfect if only I lost 50lbs… but I haven't lost 50 lbs, so that is why my life isn't perfect and I'm not happy. Well I guess I'm not happy, I need to lose 50lbs and then I'll be happy…losing 50lbs is a lot of work, uh that is depressing…no wonder I'm not happy…
Have you ever found yourself stuck in this kind of a thought pattern? Steals your energy, your motivation and brings you down, doesn't it? While it is important to identify what isn't working in your life to bring you health and happiness, it is even more important to avoid falling in to the trap of letting this kind of thinking become an excuse for inaction. 'If only' statements can easily create negative thought patterns which can
keep you blinded about where you are now, the progress you've already made and the aspects of your life you have to be grateful for. Excuses let you off the hook for taking action because it places the emphasis on wanting what you don't have and why you can't get there.
It is easy to fall into the habit of looking at where you are now and where you would like to be and calling the space in between a wasted effort. This kind of negative thinking can apply to all areas of your life, but seems to be especially prevalent in our attitudes towards our bodies and health. Identifying obstacles to health and happiness and then setting goals to bring about positive changes in your life is useful. Getting trapped in negative thought patterns that allow you to make excuses for why you are stuck or can't have what you want won't keep you motivated to achieve your goals.
Help yourself create the life you want. Be honest with your feelings about yourself, your health, your body and the work it takes to bring about positive change. Learn to recognize your negative thought patterns and the excuses they generate. Start thinking positively by recognizing something about your life/self/situation you are grateful for. Use this positive thinking to stay motivated. This is especially valuable when it comes to your health and managing your weight. Learn as much as you can about how your body works and what it needs to thrive. Then you can use your knowledge to make beneficial dietary and lifestyle choices to stick with your journey to better health.
Last issue's column busted some weightloss and calorie myths. One of the most important principles to remember is that the number of calories present in a food does not tell you the nutritional integrity, the quality or the health creating potential of foods. When you learn how the body works, and the 'ingredients' you need to thrive, this principle really becomes something to live by.
The human body is intelligent. Your body is equipped with instructions on how to repair, rebuild to produce and manage energy vital to living that are coded right into your cells, along with the ability to carry out those instructions efficiently. A healthy body is one in which this process is happening efficiently, where your metabolism manages your weight, and you feel well, with energy to spare! In order for these vital processes to take place, very specific compounds and nutrients must be available for the body to use. The more stress you have to handle (physical, emotional, mental stress and even illness), the more important these compounds and nutrients are to maintaining the body's vital processes. This is where eating nourishing foods, not calories, becomes essential.
Your body needs substances from nature including vitamins, minerals, proteins, fatty acids, water, fibre, carbohydrates and other compounds, which we can call nutrients. All of the vital processes necessary to sustaining life, and creating optimal health, require these nutrients. We should get these nutrients from eating foods. Unfortunately, a huge percentage of convenient, packaged, pre-made foods that make up a large portion of our diets are not supplying the nutrients your body looks for.
In fact, many of them are not only devoid of essential nutrients; they can act as nutrient-robbers and can even be toxic or unrecognizable to the body as food. Processed foods are foods made from parts of plants, most often grains, whose nutrients are lost when they are processed from the whole form to an ingredient used to make 'convenience' foods. Other ingredients, often synthetic or denatured, are added to improve texture, flavour, colour, and to extend their shelf life. The more processed the food the less nutritional value it has.
Foods in their whole form provide optimal nutritional support. Beans, legumes, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, cold-pressed oils and grains provide the nutrients which support health and wellbeing. Organic, lean quality meats, poultry, fish, eggs and milk products can also be incorporated into a healthy diet and do provide essential nutrients. A good quality, well formulated multi- vitamin and mineral supplement program that provides nutrients in the forms similar to those found in foods can also be a useful way to ensure you are not missing anything vital.
Here is a recap. Learn to identify self-defeating negative thought patterns, practice being grateful and make an effort to stay positive. Follow a nutrient-packed whole foods diet high in simple unprocessed foods, organic lean quality meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, fibre, good and essential fats from nuts, seeds and cold pressed oils, vegetables at every meal, colourful fruit and plenty of clean, pure water. Learn as much as you can about your body and how to keep yourself healthy.
Adele Fawcett, BA hon, ROHP, is a registered nutritional consulting practitioner and registered orthomolecular health practitioner at the Valley Nutrition Centre in Greater Sudbury.