First I suppose I should explain why I am writing about this topic. It just so happens that I was forced to learn more about natural remedies to use when dealing with a injured knee due to personal experience. I had recently been incorporating more walking and some running into my routine to recover my body from recent physical and mental stress. All the pieces of the puzzle were in place, great new shoes (which you will see in the pictures below) to accommodate my fallen arches and over-pronation and a routine that was just intense enough to get my physical body back into shape after some health challenges while giving me some much needed mental focus and relaxation. All that being said this was still a strain on my body and I could feel some tension in the medial (inside of the leg) ligaments in both my ankles and knees. This has been a recurring problem for me in the past due to my posture while exercising and compensating for the extreme pronation in my feet (tendency for the weight to roll to the inside of the foot). I thought that in time my body would adapt and strengthen as needed, then it happened…
I was merrily going about my evening relaxation routine, lounging in comfy clothes and getting ready to wind down with a good book when my kittys were anxiously waiting to come inside for dinner. At this point I was actually singing aloud some silly song I had made up about the cats coming in for dinner and I as I came up the two steps from our sunroom completely in another world of joyful delusion boom I hit the floor! Remember that part about the comfy clothes? well I was wearing a pair of sweat pants that albeit extremely cozy were about three sizes too big and too long consequently I tripped on them with all my weight landing on my left knee. At the time my merriment turned into a comical cry but I really thought nothing of it and picked myself up, along with the plant that suffered some damage on my way down, and continued on with my evening feeling some mild discomfort that faded by morning.
As I am often guilty of doing I went on with my exercise routine as planned and ignored the lingering pain in my knee until it got to the point where the swelling was unbearable and I could barely walk without a limp.
Finally I made my way to the doc’s office and she confirmed either a mild tear in my MCL (medial collateral ligament) or a severe strain and prescribed a combination of rest, anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals. and supporting my knee with a brace until pain had subsided and the ligament was healed. Never one to give into medical convention I threw out the prescription for the anti-inflammatory drugs and my mind began racing of how I was going to heal this naturally with diet, supplements, home remedies and figure out a way to adapt my workout routine to accommodate an injury. So here’s what I did….
A friend and colleague mentioned that in Iran her family has used a traditional method of healing injuries to joints and bones with a paste made from egg yolk and tumeric. Being a nutritionist and lover of any natural home remedy I was very excited to try this and found amazing results. So simple and inexpensive this is a fantastic remedy to reduce swelling and inflammation, relieve pain, and speed the healing process.
All you need is one egg yolk, I used organic omega 3 eggs, and about 2 Tbsp. of tumeric powder, again I used organic tumeric to get the most healing benefits (in fact I use only organic spices to retain the potent healing properties often lost in traditionally processed irradiated spices, but that will be a topic for another post!)
Simply mix the egg yolk and tumeric into a paste and apply to the affected joint (do not apply to broken skin or open wounds).
I suggest doing this over a towel you don’t mind ruining and using some gloves. I learned this the hard way after cleaning up stubborn tumeric stains from our kitchen floor and having bright yellow stained hands for a good part of the day!!
Looks a bit gross I know!!
Then wrap the joint with a cotton cloth to cover, an old t-shirt cut into strips works best (organic white cotton is preferable to avoid dyes etc. penetrating the skin) and follow up by wrapping with a tensor bandage to give the joint some extra support.
You can leave this on for as long as possibly comfortable. When at home I left it on all day, worked out with it on, and even wore it under my pants when out and about seeing clients. When you are ready to remove the bandage I suggest doing this outside to avoid tumeric egg yolk crumbles all over your floor and bath tub, again a lesson learned the hard way. Your skin will be a glorious bright yellow hue, but don’t panic this will wash off in the shower and fade over time.
On the advice of my mother who always has home remedies for anything that ails you, I also took epsom salt baths daily with an added boost of a product called Alka Bath, which is a detoxifying mineral bath salt combination with semi-precious stones and by far one of my favorite products ever! After the baths I followed up with a castor oil massage on the affected knee, again on the advice of my wise mother. These treatments significantly helped with the pain, discomfort, and swelling phew!
In addition to an already 80-90% raw, extremely clean diet I wanted to add some specific nutrients that support joint and ligament health, specifically vitamin C, zinc, amino acids, and foods with anti-inflammatory properties. I went through my fridge and pantry and found some great foods that contain high levels of these nutrients and focussed on adding even more of these into my daily routine. Here are some of the gems I already had in my kitchen to aid my healing…
Pumpkin seed oil, which is high in zinc (this raw pumpkin seed oil is made from Styrian pumpkin seeds which is the best I have ever tasted, the actual raw Styrian pumpkin seeds are super yummy too!!) goji berries, golden berries, and red peppers all extremely good sources of vitamin C, bee pollen which is an excellent source of amino acids as well as a whole host of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes necessary for healing (Honeycombe Botanicals has the best bee pollen I have ever tried!!) , coconut oil which has amazing anti-inflammatory properties, and raw cacao which also has significant anti-inflammatory properties and an abundance of antioxidants necessary for healing.
As well as incorporating these foods I also have either a green juice, super smoothie or both daily, which is always a part of my routine but even more important when in the healing process.
enjoying green juice and day dreaming of running through the park someday day soon!
A typical green juice for me might include…
organic leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, arugula or other baby greens
organic parsley or other herbs such as dill or cilantro
organic freshly squeezed lemon juice
a pinch of sea salt, himalayan salt or Herbamare
and here’s what’s in my super healing smoothie…
1/4 cup Vega One
1/4 cup Sun Warrior Raw protein
1-2 tsp. Amazing Grass Superfood Greens (one of my favorite greens powders)
1 tsp. MSM powder (this helps with inflammation and pain)
1 tsp. of Vitamin C powder to aid healing
1-2 tsp. of Wurzelkraft (another one of my favorite superfood products which contains all the vitamins and minerals present in the body)
1 cup distilled water
And for the supplements.. here are a few of the things I added…
New Chapter Zyflammend, New Roots Herbal Infla-Heal Plus, Bio-Sil silica drops, and Hyaluronic acid
You will notice that I mention supplementation last because I strongly believe that natural supplements are wonderful additions to any protocol but they should be secondary to a healthy diet and lifestyle modifications. The supplements I have chosen to add to my healing regime are mainly to reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness in my knee and provide a combination of proteolytic enzymes and essential nutrients needed to heal and remineralize the tissues in the knee joint.
I am also a huge fan of using homeopathic remedies to stimulate the body’s natural self healing process….
Traumeel and rhus tox were the right remedies for me however, you should always choose homeopathic remedies based on individual symptoms and it is best to consult a homeopathic practitioner to find the best remedies for your constitution and manifestation of symptoms.
And lastly this is how I modified my workout routine…
At first I could barely put any weight on my left leg so I thought this would be the perfect time to work on upper body conditioning and core strength. Before my workout I made sure my knee was supported properly with a tensor bandage and flexible knee brace, which is very important to prevent further injury (although I do not have the extra brace on in the picture below as my knee was feeling pretty good that day).
These are the new shoes I was referring to earlier
Then I used a combination of pilates and yoga mat exercises combined with upper body circuits with high reps and low weight done in a seated position. My traditional workouts, prior to injury, generally consisted of more functional fitness type moves with compound exercises but in this case I had to draw on my old school knowledge and figure out a way to get in cardiovascular training and strength conditioning without the use of my whole body. Once I could put more weight on my knee I also incorporated upper body cardio moves, boxing style which really got me working up a sweat. In the end I had some pretty fierce workouts without the use of my lower body, my core and upper body are very grateful for the experience.
So what did I learn from all of this? I definitely have reinforced a sense of confidence in my body’s own ability to heal, which has never failed me. I have learned that sometimes you need to be pushed out of your comfort zone and routine to learn new things about yourself and what you can achieve. I have learned that I have a culinary medicine cabinet in my kitchen just waiting to be called upon if needed and I have all the tools necessary for making self healing home remedies, with the exception of eggs and a few extra supplements, right in my own pantry. One of the biggest realizations was understanding that the importance of appropriate time for rest and time for movement need to be acknowledged, I suppose the Universe will keep reminding me of this lesson until I get it right! And finally for the most important lesson, retire those baggy sweat pants…I haven’t worn them since, boxer shorts and a warm blanket have become my new comfy cozy.
Michelle Waithe, BaSc., RHN, PTS Holistic Nutritionist at Fuel
As the lazy days of summer wind down and we get back into our hectic work and school schedules, maintaining a healthy diet can be a challenge. As a holistic nutritionist the number one request I get from clients is how to make healthy meals quick, easy, and above all delicious. Commercial advertising has taught us that in order to be convenient and tasty, food needs to be served from a drive-through window or ready in seconds in a microwavable package. As a result, many have come to view the art of meal preparation with fresh ingredients as effortful, expensive, and time consuming.
It is my passion to bring joy and love back into the kitchen, exploring fresh flavourful ingredients while creating optimal health. Here are my favourite strategies to make healthy eating an enticing adventure as well as a convenient part of your routine. Preparation is the key to daily success and commitment to your healthy eating goals! Even if you have already embraced a fresh, whole food diet you will find these simple ideas and recipes extremely helpful to streamline your routine.
Stock your pantry
Make sure to have healthy ingredients in your pantry at all times so that meal preparation is a smooth process:
– Organic BPA-free canned beans or legumes, organic vegetable stock either in powdered or Tetra Pak containers, whole grain crackers and pasta, and natural nut butters are great convenience items to have on hand.
– Dried herbs and spices, dried legumes, whole grains and whole grain flours, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp hearts, goji berries and other dried fruit, raw nuts and seeds (keep these refrigerated if buying in larger quantities) are great sources of essential fatty acids, fibre, and vitamins/minerals.
– Fair trade cacao nibs and cacao powder, natural sweeteners such as coconut sugar, raw agave, maple syrup, or raw honey, coconut oil and other cold-pressed oils (refrigerate after opening), and natural Himalayan or sea salt are great for adding flavour and nutrition to any recipe.
Find your favourite cooking references
Keep one or two natural cookbooks in your kitchen to use as a reference for quick and easy meals. The New Enlightened Eating by Caroline Dupont, Get It Ripe and Ripe From Around Here by Jae Steele, and Meals That Heal Inflammation by Julie Daniluk are my go-to favourites.
• Bookmark websites for quick and healthy recipes. One of my favourites is http://www.beabetterbeing.comfeaturing the Mum’s Original line of superfood products.
Plan your meals for the week
• Once you have found a few recipes you really enjoy, plan out how to use them throughout the week and create a shopping list accordingly.
• Make larger batches of recipes like soups, stews, and dips that can be portioned and either refrigerated or frozen for quick meals and snacks.
Make a weekly shopping list
• Decide which day of the week will be your shopping day. Planning to shop during less busy times can make the experience much more pleasurable.
• Check your pantry before you shop and make a list of staple ingredients that are running low, as well as any new ingredients or fresh produce you will need for your recipes.
• You may need to shop twice weekly for produce to ensure optimal freshness; think of it as something to look forward to by exploring new ingredients you may have never tried before.
• Get familiar with your local health food store and farmers markets; many have regular sales and new specialty items to make your menus affordable and interesting. (See Vitality’s Guide to Organics)
Have a set meal preparation day each week
• This can either be on your shopping day or the day after.
• Take time to wash and chop fruit, vegetables, and greens and store in glass containers in the fridge. This will make it easy to choose healthy snack and meal options.
• Prepare larger batches of soups, stews, dips, and homemade energy bars for multiple meals and snacks during the week, or freeze for the weeks to come.
• Cook grains and legumes and store in sealed containers in the fridge. These can easily be turned into a wide variety of healthy meals in minutes with a few additional ingredients.
• Make sure to have a wide variety of containers available for storing ingredients and prepared foods.
• Glass Mason jars are great to store dry goods, such as legumes, grains, flours, and spices.
• Have freezer-safe containers on hand for storing larger batches of recipes.
• If using freezer bags or plastic containers use BPA-free varieties.
• Clearly label your batch storage recipes with the recipe title and the date made.
Healthy and Delicious Snacks
Snacking is another word that conjures up idealistic images appealing to our deepest food desires and cravings. Simply put, a snack is just a smaller portion of food. I challenge you to literally think ‘outside the box’ and come up with some creative snack ideas that will keep you energized throughout the day. Snacking is a great way to keep your blood sugar balanced and the metabolic fire burning.
Here are some of my favourite simple and nutritious snacks. Mother Nature’s package is the best there is!
• fresh or dried fruit
• raw vegetables with hummus or bean dip
• half an avocado drizzled with raw honey or homemade salsa
• celery with natural nut butter
• raw nuts and seeds, homemade trail mix
• homemade energy bars
• a smaller portion of any meal
If food preparation at home is completely new to you then start off with committing to a few days per week and source other ways to maintain healthy eating with a busy schedule. When you are pressed for time, heading out to a holistic market such as Nature’s Emporium in Newmarket or The Big Carrot in Toronto to pick up ready-made meals and snacks that adhere to the principles of whole foods eating is a convenient choice. If you find yourself unprepared or just craving something quick, healthy, and delicious there are many choices if you know where to look.
Meal Delivery Service
Another great option would be to source out healthy meal delivery services in your area. Most people think of this as an expense they simply cannot afford, but in reality it usually ends up being cheaper than buying the individual ingredients and is a great choice if health is your passion but cooking is not. As a consulting holistic nutritionist at Fuel Nutrition, a healthy meal delivery service in Toronto, I often recommend meal delivery to clients who are new to healthy eating, looking for convenience, or concerned that good food cannot be delicious. The use of fresh, natural ingredients free of artificial chemicals is paramount if you choose to add any pre-prepared meals to your routine so make sure to look for services that offer this as part of their philosophy.
No matter what your current lifestyle, there are many ways to incorporate healthy food even with the most hectic of schedules. Implementing these simple strategies will ensure that healthy eating is a part of your everyday lifestyle and a joyful addition to your routine. At the end of the day the better you nourish your body the more productive you will be, you will be equipped to keep up with the demands of daily life and create abundant health effortlessly.
Here are a few of my favourite recipes that can be made in larger batches and frozen for up to three months. Try one of these on your next food preparation day; doubling a recipe usually takes the same amount of time as making one batch and you will have enough for weeks of healthy meals and snacks.
(Makes 10 patties)
This recipe calls for a specific product created by the German biochemist, Dr. Peter Jentschura, called TischleinDeckDich (named after the famous European fairytale). This is just one of the doctor’s products created to alkalize and regenerate the body, promoting health, healing, and wellness.
- 3 Tbsp TischleinDeckDich (a convenient pantry item composed of quinoa, millet, and dehydrated vegetables available at health food stores)
- 1½ cups water
- 1 egg (as a vegan option use 1 Tbsp ground chia with 3 Tbsp water and let sit for 15 minutes)
- 2 Tbsp oat flakes
- Herbal or sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Virgin coconut oil for pan-frying
This recipe was created by Caroline Dupont, author of The New Enlightened Eating. (Makes 6-8 servings)
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil
- Water or vegetable broth (enough to reach about 1 inch below the vegetables)
- 1½ cups sliced leeks or chopped onions
- 8 cups coarsely chopped green or yellow zucchini or a combination
- ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Adapted from Meals That Heal Inflammation by Julie Daniluk, RHN. This cookbook is gluten-, refined sugar-, and dairy-free with 130 easy recipes that assist the body in the healing process. The berry muffins were created using almond flour and honey for those who are suffering from IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). (Makes 12 muffins)
- 2½ cups almond flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp grey sea salt or pink rock salt
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 large organic eggs (for a vegan version mix 3 Tbsp of whole chia seeds with 9 Tbsp water and let stand for 15 minutes in place of the eggs)
- ½ cup liquid raw honey or coconut nectar for a vegan version
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup blueberries or raspberries, fresh or frozen
Adapted from http://www.beabetterbeing.com, a blog site developed by Ann Barnes to enlighten others about practical ways to make healthy food convenient and delicious. (Makes approximately 30 bars when cut into 4-inch squares)
- 2½ cups of almond meal or almond flour
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup hemp hearts
- 1/3 cup hemp protein powder
- 1/3 cup whole chia seed
- ½ cup goji berries or other dried fruit
- 2 Tbsp greens powder (optional)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/3 cup raw coconut nectar or raw agave
- ½ tsp vanilla
Unless you live somewhere on a deserted island many of you are leading pretty fast paced lives, juggling all the demands we place on ourselves on a daily basis. We give priority to our careers, family, social life, personal habits, and hobbies but how much importance to we place on resting our bodies and minds each day? What if I told you that taking an afternoon nap would help you meet a project deadline or getting a good night’s sleep could accelerate your fat loss? It seems counterintuitive that slowing down could actually accelerate results but this is often the key to balanced health in your body and mind.
Countless studies have proven the link between lack of sleep and less than optimal function of the body and mind. Research has shown that fat loss is greatly reduced in people who get less sleep while those who have fuel burning metabolisms and are most productive in their day are regular nappers and have consistent sleep routines. I could get all ‘sciencey’ on you here, it is my tendency to dig all the interesting details, but if you want to see the overwhelming evidence just take a ‘google’ at the ‘effects of sleep deprivation’ and you will be napping in no time!
So on to the good stuff. How do we improve the health or our bodies and mind with some restful practices? Here are some of the things that I have incorporated into my life and some that I have not yet got in the habit of doing but it’s on the horizon!
Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, even on your days off
This has made a huge difference for me. Although it is somewhat difficult at times to avoid my night owl tendencies getting into this routine has my body craving rest at between 9-10pm and waking anywhere from 5-7am, sometimes even without an alarm, I stress the word SOMETIMES…there are still those days when I fight with the snooze button but I am definitely noticing an improvement.
Wind Down Before Bed
Take time to unwind from the day’s events and prepare yourself for rest. Most of us have an established morning routine but find that by the end of the day collapsing into bed is about as close to routine as it gets. Engaging in activities that are less stimulating to the body and mind is a good habit to get into before bedtime. Try taking a hot bath or shower, using aromatherapy oils, listening to relaxing music, reading something light, or watching a funny episode of your favorite show at the end of the day to get the body ready for sleep. Watching an episode of Friends is by far my favorite thing to do before bed, no matter how many times I watch a given episode it always makes me laugh out loud and puts me in a perfect state of joy which is the best way to enter sleep. Turn down the outside noise and tune into things that make you feel relaxed and peaceful. Before bed is not a good time to watch the news, work on something stressful, or try to get just one more thing done before the end of the day. Avoid anything that agitates the mind or makes your feel negative emotions.
Make your sleep environment an oasis of rest
This is my idea of a bedroom oasis…I’m working on it!
Turn your bedroom into a oasis of relaxation, make it the most beautiful and inviting room in your home. Avoid bringing anything stressful with you into the bedroom, make it a sanctuary of rest. Vow to leave all your cares at the doorway when you enter and engage only in thoughts that feel good when you are in there. If you are someone whose mind is always racing journaling before bed is a great exercise to leave your thoughts of the day behind. Our minds are often bombarded with thinking of things we need to do and new ideas that we may have. The fear is that if we don’t constantly go over ‘it’ in our heads we will forget. If you leave your thoughts on paper at the end of the day then you don’t have to worry about forgetting that brilliant new idea to work on tomorrow and you mind can simply rest.
Take a nap
This is my favorite, although I do not do it as often as I would like! Napping during the day is a wonderful way to refresh your body and mind. I know most of you are thinking, who has time for napping during the day??? All you need is 15-20 minutes to get yourself going again, anything more than that is not really necessary and could keep you up at night. Start by doing this regularly on your days off, instead of reaching for a coffee schedule a nap when you start to feel a little sluggish and retreat for a 15-20 minute rejuvenation.
Rest without sleep
Napping may not fit into everyone’s schedule and lifestyle but there are other ways to simulate the beneficial effects of napping. Whenever you are feeling a little ‘foggy’ or tired during your day take a few minutes clear your mind and tune into your body. Move away from whatever you are doing and engage in some simple meditative techniques. Taking a few deep breaths to ground yourself and then taking time to observe your thoughts and what’s happening for your body will make a huge difference in the productivity of your day. If you find time for a longer meditation this is extremely beneficial but any amount of focussed relaxation will benefit you greatly. Taking time out in my work day to recharge is one habit that I have not fully adopted just yet, this is easy for me when I have days off but incorporating this into my work day is something I am looking forward to! Spend sometime everyday intentionally drifting off to wherever you would like to be and then gently come back to the task at hand and see where it takes you.
When you take time to rest your body and mind you will feel more balanced, your health will improve, and you will have the energy needed to achieve any goal your mind can conceive.
Wishing you a fresh, nutritious, delicious, and relaxing day!
Michelle Waithe, Holistic Nutritionist at Fuel
The organic food movement has found a secure footing amongst the sea of conventional produce but some people may not be fully convinced about the benefits of organic food and what it really means. People often ask me why they should spend more on organic produce, with the argument that just eating more fruits and vegetables is a big enough jump in their efforts to realize a healthier body. Skeptics have a strong voice in questioning organic claims with good reason, as the average consumer is bombarded with conflicting messages about food on a daily basis. We are all too familiar with the concept that something is good for us, as advocated by one sounding board, only to be discredited by another such authority. From a holistic point of view avoiding any artificial chemicals in my food is reason enough for me to choose organic but there may be some other convincing evidence to sway your vote towards the organic campaign.
So what does organic really mean? Depending on the food category it can take on a few slight variations but for now let’s just talk produce. According to the CFIA
(Canadian Food Inspection Agency) organic in relation to agricultural products is defined as the following:
“An organic product is an agricultural product that has been certified as organic. A product can be certified if it is produced using the methods outlined by the Canadian Organic Standards.”
“Products that make an organic claim must be certified by a Certification Body that has been accredited, based upon the recommendation of a CFIA designated Conformity Verification Body. The Certification Body must certify the product to the Canadian Organic Standards.”
The purpose of such definitions is ensure regulation so that the consumer is confident that they are getting what they pay for and not being mislead by false claims. Now, the purpose of this is not to conjure up ideas of conspiracy theories or make people weary about the validity of organic claims but rather to remove the mysticism of organics and inform you about why they are the healthier choice from a nutritional stand point.
Organic farming practices not only ensure that your food is free from harmful chemicals but that it is grown in such a way that produces the most nutrient dense end product. While it is true that our food does not contain the same level of nutrients it once did before corporate agribusiness became a world wide phenomenon, organic farming standards are put in place to ensure that we avoid any further degradation to the quality of our soil and the crops it generates. Crop rotation and proper tilling of the land creates nutrient rich soil to give us the most nourishing food available given our current resources. Avoiding harmful chemicals, protecting our precious resources, and feeding our body with the best food possible should be at the top of everyone’s priority list, an idealistic perspective from a nutritionist’s point of view ; -) This alone is reason enough to spend your grocery dollars on organic fare however, there are even more enticing reasons to choose organic from a health protective rationale.
One of the most interesting aspects about organic produce is that they contain a much higher level of phytonutrients than traditionally grown, pesticide laden crops. Phytonutrients are compounds separate from the essential vitamins and minerals contained in plants that the body requires in order to survive. These are the health promoting constituents within plants that are getting so much praise these days for their ability to protect the body and foster optimal health. Phytonutrients are responsible for color pigments and odiferous characteristics in fruits and vegetables, that pungent smell of garlic is mother nature’s gift from her sulfur containing phytonutrients.
All the buzz about eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables is due the ability of phytonutrients to protect the body. As it turns out this makes perfect sense when you understand the role of these powerful compounds as part of a plant’s infrastructure. Besides adding beauty and wonderful aromatic qualities to our food, phytonutrients play a much larger role, they are actually the immune system of the plant. Phytonutrients help plants fight off invaders through a carefully orchestrated combination of releasing odors and parading saturated pigments that discourage pesky critters. So how does this all tie in with organic vs. non-organic? Simply put, when plants are sprayed with pesticides they are given an ‘artificial immune system’. If there is no threat from outside invaders due to a cloak of chemical protection, then there is no need for a plant to develop its own natural suit of armor in the form of additional phytonutrients. While these are still present in plants sprayed with pesticides, otherwise produce isles would be filled with colorless, odorless heaps of plant matter, the optimal level of phytonutrients is never developed because there simply is no need. You can liken it to a child whose parents never allow them to be exposed to ‘germs’, they will often have a weakened immune system over their life span because it was never given the chance to fully develop at an early age. So when you are eating blueberries for their beneficial blue pigment from the anthocyanin group of phytonutrients, you are getting much more for your money savoring an organic blueberry and believe me you will taste the difference too!
If you are not yet completely convinced that organic produce is better for you and the planet then at least start off by avoiding the ‘dirty dozen’ when it comes to conventional produce. The dirty dozen is a list of the top 12 most sprayed fruits in vegetables which, in my opinion should always be bought organic
For a complete listing of pesticide levels in foods and other prominent health and environmental issues the Environmental Working Group is an excellent resource.
If you have added juicing
to your health regime this is another crucial area to always use organic produce. Juicing concentrates nutrients from the ingredients used so in effect when you juice non-organic produce you may actually be concentrating the level of pesticides, that seems pretty counterproductive when incorporating juices to improve health!!
Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is a wonderful way to improve your health and fuel your body but if you want to reap the most benefit organic is the only way to go!
Wishing you a fresh, nutritious, and delicious day!
Michelle Waithe, Holistic Nutritionist at Fuel
Since my early teen years, when I began seriously thinking about a healthy lifestyle I have ebbed and flowed with my convictions and ideas about diet, exercise, and my body. There were many factors that contributed to my thoughts on how to maintain perfect health and a lot of them did not include wholesome ideals or what I would now consider a holistic approach.
Up until the age of twelve I had very positive influences within my family life that fostered a healthy attitude towards food, exercise, and my body. Strict ideas about food and body image were not something in my conscious awareness in the early years of life. I was always a child who loved to be outside engaging in some type of sporting activity, having a father and siblings who were very active, and as my mum reminds me at every family gathering I owe my healthy eating habits to my brother Bruce. As she joyfully recounts my brother coming home from school, placing me in my high chair and sharing a big bowl of salad with me, my mum always reminds me that this is what set the pace for my love of healthy food in the years to come, that and her’s and my grandmother’s homemade meals. There was however, a very significant event that changed the course of my life and they way I viewed food, exercise, and health.
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of twelve, a tail spin of emotion around food and health set in. Suddenly I had to ignore my intuition about what was good for my body and replace it with a stringent set of ‘rules’ about what, when, and how I would eat and exercise, combine that with daily finger pokes and insulin injections and my world was turned upside down, life as I knew had changed. This was all very foreign to me to say the least. Never before had I eaten artificial sweeteners and ‘fat free’ food but then found myself drinking diet pop, sugar-free this, that, and the other thing, and lots of packaged products because these were ‘allowed’ in my meal plan and encouraged by my entourage of medical specialists. Suddenly having such a rigid meal plan when before I simply listened to what my body wanted, created a pattern of eating when I wasn’t hungry and not being ‘allowed’ to eat when my body was signaling it was time for food. I distinctly remember the incident that set these wheels in motion at warp speed. I had just come home from school, my grandmother sitting in the living room watching her favorite soap opera, and an otherwise empty house. The other thing I remember vividly was being so hungry I could cry. All I wanted was a piece of toast but I knew that my scheduled meal time was not for another 2 hours and would consist of fruit and yogurt, as outlined but the colorful chart that hung prominently on the kitchen pantry door. Anxious and frantically hungry, I decided I would have a piece of bread. I couldn’t let my grandmother observe this blatant breaking of the ‘rules’ and God forbid someone came home and saw me eating ‘off schedule’ so I quietly snuck a slice of whole wheat bread into the bathroom and ate it. Filled with fear that someone would catch me, I began the cycle of what would be a continual process of food becoming my number one enemy. I should make it perfectly clear that I was never scolded by family members for eating or not eating but rather had conjured up these thoughts based on wanting to follow the rules set out by the medical authorities.
This disconnect between my mind and body resulted in years of weight loss and weight gain, disordered eating, over exercising or not exercising at all, and generally not feeling good about food, my body, or my health. Although this was a significant struggle throughout my teens and twenties it was a journey I had to take and made me who I am today, not to mention has lead me to the best career ever! Having had such distorted thinking about health I can often see the same patterns repeated time and time again with my clients. Although the thought processes are generated for a variety of different reasons the result is still the same, people struggle with health, weight, and body image based on a picture they have created from a set of beliefs. While our general health routines are extremely important what is more crucial to our longevity and joy in life is the way we think about our own personal habits.
In the infant stages of my career as a nutritionist my motto was along the lines of “you are what you eat” but as I evolve and continue to grow it is very clear to me that this is just a small portion of the equation. Yes, your food choices can positively or negatively affect the way your body feels there is no question about that however, this is not the only factor in optimal creation of health. My perspective now is most definitely “you are what you think about what you eat”. This may be an eye opening or somewhat revolutionary statement for most, so let me illustrate it to you this way. If you are eating a 100% clean diet but always anxious about every little slip up in your self imposed or socially accepted regime or exercising come hell or high water to the point where you have to get that morning run in no matter what otherwise your day falls apart then how healthy are you really?
An overabundance of stress whether it is about external factors or feeling badly about breaking rules you have created about behaviors, will never create a joyful body or mind. Yes, you may achieve the ‘look’ you believe is optimal or the stamina needed to meet athletic goals but if you are constantly creating an impenetrable armor of unreasonable standards needed to maintain your ideals is this truly a state of health? To me health is about feeling joyful at every moment in your body, mind, and spirit no matter where you are at a given time. After much soul searching, which I continue to expand upon daily, I came to understand that any energy put towards the achievement of health is lost when actions become effortful. There is a distinct difference between striving for greater health and forcing yourself to do something that feels unnatural. If you dig deep within yourself you will intuitively know the difference, but I must admit it does take practice to hear your true inner voice. The best way I have found to do this is create awareness. Listen to the thoughts you think, hear the voice of rote repetition in your head, and create stillness so that the real voice can shine through. Negative thoughts are only detrimental when they are unconscious and repetitive, if you can acknowledge and release them, thoughts do not have the same power.
While my case illustrates the extreme, I feel that many people hold themselves inside similar cages of belief which can only result in a feeling of failure. If nothing else, I hope to impart some wisdom from what I have learned on my journey, it is always about the process and learning to trust your own innate knowledge. When you have very strict rules about diet, exercise, and health and your behavior falls outside these guidelines you create a sense of failure whether it is in your conscious awareness or held deep at the subconscious level. I encourage you to seek the best health, learn about nutrition and exercise, I wouldn’t be in this business if I didn’t believe that however, the fastest road to health is understanding the perceptions you have created about your routine. Take a moment to examine what you believe about your health regime, the food you eat, and how you see your body. Be at peace with where ever you are now and create stillness to cultivate your intuition, it will never stere you in the wrong direction.
Wishing you a fresh, nutritious, and delicious day…enjoy your life, eat great food, and be joyful in every moment!
Michelle Waithe, Holistic Nutritionist at Fuel
At Fuel we are all about injecting flavor into healthy foods and taking the enjoyment of eating clean to another level. Fresh ingredients and homemade food is a huge part of our philosophy so I thought I would give you some ideas on how to make familiar summer condiments healthier and even more full of flavor. Most people associate summer BBQ season with the standard adornments such as ketchup, mustard, and relish but these are often highly processed and loaded with refined sugars and preservatives. I know most people don’t consider making homemade versions of these toppings but it is really super simple, in the end you will have something much healthier and the taste will outshine any bottled condiment lingering in your refrigerator I promise!
Let’s start with ketchup, probably the most popular all around condiment out there. Unless you are buying an all-natural, organic type ketchup most conventional brands contain a whack of refined sugar and less than wholesome ingredients, take a look at the ingredient label and you will see what I am talking about.
Have you ever wondered how natural flavor can be considered an ingredient…hmmmm?
According to Code of Federal Regulations natural flavoring is defined as:
“the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.“….In other words, natural flavors can be pretty much anything approved for use in foods.
Even more reason to make easy and delicious homemade ketchup…you will never turn back!! We often serve a variation of this with our amazing turkey burger. Here is a super simple ketchup recipe that doesn’t even require turning on the stove
1 cup sun dried tomatoes
1 cup fresh tomatoes, any kind will do but grape tomatoes add a nice sweet flavour
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup sweet yellow onion or shallots, chopped
10 basil leaves
1 tsp. all spice, ground
1/2 tsp. cloves, ground
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
6 dates, pitted
1/4 olive or flax oil
2 tbsp raw coconut nectar, raw honey, or coconut sugar
1 tsp. himalayan or sea salt
- Soak dates and sun dried tomatoes in enough warm water to cover for about 20 minutes, then drain soak water.
- Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth, how easy is that!!
- Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Mustard is my favorite condiment because is it so versatile, pungent in flavour, and has many health benefits. Amazing on its own or as an addition to dressings, marinades, and dips mustard is a must have in my pantry. Conventional mustard is not the worst offender in terms of unhealthy ingredients and there are many great natural brands that I use quite often, but there is just something about making it from scratch and putting your own twist on it. This is a simple basic recipe but you could add all types of additional flavors, how about fresh tarragon, dill, or rosemary….yum!!
1/2 cup brown or yellow mustard seeds (the brown seeds have more of a kick!)
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. white pepper, ground
1 tsp. tumeric, ground
1/4 filtered water, or just enough to achieve desired consistency
- Gently crush mustard seeds with a mortar and pestle, this will result in a ‘grainy’ type mustard. If you prefer a ‘smoother’ consistency grind mustard seeds in a coffee or spice grinder.
- Add all ingredients except water to a blender and blend to combine.
- Add water slowly until desired consistency is achieved.
- Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator up to 2 months.
Conventional relish is another one of those sneaky purveyors of refined sugar which most of you are hopefully trying to avoid. Relish also contains artificial colors, unless you are eating kale relish that vibrant green color which so beautifully compliments your BBQ favorites is very far removed from anything natural.
Have you ever looked at the ingredient list of the most popular brands of prepared relish? You might find items like high fructose corn syrup, refined salt, colors such as yellow no. 5 (also known as tartrazine) and blue no. 1, natural flavor (yes it rears its ugly head again!), and preservatives such as polysorbate 80
Ditch that unhealthy stuff and try your hand at making a fresh relish, another great recipe that has endless possibilities for adding your own personal flare. While I admit this one takes more prep time than the first two recipes due to all the chopping, it is definitely worth it! A simple trick to avoid the chopping is to do a rough chop of the first four ingredients and then pulse in a food processor with the remaining ingredients…so easy!
1 small jar of natural pickles, drained and finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 green pepper finely chopped
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
juice of 2 medium sized lemons
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or natural red wine vinegar
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 tsp. grated ginger or powdered ginger
1 tsp. white pepper, ground
- If chopping by hand mix all ingredients in a large bowl and let sit for 1 hour to allow flavors to marinate together.
- If using a food processor add all ingredients and pulse a few times to achieve a fine chop, you want it to be a little chunky.
- Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Try one of these recipes at your next outdoor gathering, these make great host gifts as well, trust me you will the hit of the party!!
Wishing you a fresh, nutritious, and delicious day!
Michelle Waithe, holistic nutritionist at Fuel
I can say with a high degree of certainty that summer is here with a vengeance, all that stuff about global warming yeah well I am starting to take it seriously now!! As Canadians we often spend the winter months dreaming of the long gone days of summer, basking in the sun’s rays playing outside and getting a little more active. Spring always seems to tease us with a taste of summer and the dance with winter’s fight to hang on just a little longer. Once Canada Day hits there’s usually no question, summer is officially here. Like bears coming out of hibernation Canadians around the country are eager to get out and enjoy the weather, get into their outdoor exercise routine, and drop those extra pounds.
Staying hydrated while exercising is always important to prevent fatigue, maintain or improve performance, and make the most of your workouts however, the importance of hydration in hot humid weather is even more crucial. When the body engages in physical activity heat is generated internally, this is how we burn calories, and in order to maintain the body’s delicate internal balance it has to rid itself of this extra heat which is why we sweat. Sweat has two main purposes, it allows the body to detoxify through the skin and it is the body’s automatic air conditioning system. The amount we sweat depends on a number of factors, a few of which include the intensity of exercise, how hydrated the body is, and the key one here is the temperature of the surroundings. The hotter and more humid the outdoor conditions the more we need to sweat to cool ourselves down. If our internal air conditioner is working over time and we are not replenishing fluids to keep it going dehydration is a consequence which can have mild to very serious side effects. The average person loses 1L of sweat for every hour of exercise, and that is in regular conditions, so the message here is replenish, replenish, replenish!
Now that we understand why we need to hydrate let’s discuss the most effective ways to prevent dehydration and ensure our bodies are equipped to enjoy the hazy days of summer. Of course the best way to keep the body hydrated is to make sure you are drinking throughout the day. The most effective way to do this is to drink pure, clean water as your main source of fluids. When planning exercise outdoors or spending extended periods of time in the heat be sure to consume 1/2-1 L of extra fluid beforehand to compensate. While exercising also make sure to drink fluids, preferably a natural electrolyte or sport water drink, at regular intervals. When we sweat the body also loses electrolytes, mineral salts dissolved in body fluids that regulate fluid balance, therefore it is important to replace these as well. After exercise or extended periods in humid weather replenish fluids throughout the rest of the day at regular intervals to maintain hydration status for future activity.
Here are some of my favorite ways to hydrate the body naturally, tasty ways to beat the heat and keep your body at peak performance. When buying bottled ‘nutrient waters’ avoid at all costs drinks which are filled with refined sugars, artificial colors (water should never be fluorescent blue or green yikes!!), artificial flavors and sweeteners. Opt for the natural choices below.
Coconut Water – contains naturally occuring electrolytes, and its delicious too! Look for unsweetened organic varieties, the only ingredient should be coconut water.
GP8 Water – naturally purified water that contains 3-4 times the oxygen of regular water, this allows the body to maintain hydration status.
Vega Rehydrator – a natural, alkaline-forming drink mix, free from sugar and artificial sweeteners, formulated with all the essential electrolytes the body needs to stay hydrated during workouts.
Or try making your own!
DIY Electrolyte Drink Recipe
1 cup filtered water
1-2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 pinch of sea salt (do not use table salt)
1/2 tablespoon of raw honey
At Fuel we encourage getting a little more active and soaking up some vitamin D when the sun is shining, just remember to always use common sense when exercising in hot humid weather. If the humidex rating is above 35 avoid strenuous activity, save these days for sipping your lemonade pool side. Know the signs of dehydration which include nausea and fatigue in mild cases, vomiting and cessation of sweating in severe cases, this is very serious and requires immediate medical attention. Know your limits, hydrate your body, and enjoy these long awaited days of summer.
Michelle Waithe – Holistic Nutritionist at Fuel Nutrition
As a tribute to father’s day this year I thought I would share some of the great life lessons learned from my dad about how stay healthy and youthful. Both Bruce and I can definitely attribute a strong influence about how to maintain good health from our truly amazing father. At the age of almost 83 our dad cycles 25km three times per week in addition to longer group rides throughout the summer, engages in a regular weight training regime, and daily cardiovascular exercise.
Dad out for a 25km bike ride
Healthy dietary practices are also part of the daily routine. Although he does have his sweet indulgences I think the key to my father’s health is his attitude towards food and life in general. I can honestly say that I have never seen my father overeat or eat in a mindless manner. All his meals are eaten at the dining room table with complete focus on enjoying his food. My parents have even decided to have vegetarian only days 2-3 times per week and are incorporating more foods like quinoa, flaxseeds, coconut sugar, and a wider range of fruits and vegetables.
A healthy attitude about life is a key lesson I have learned from my father. No matter what the situation my father always maintains a positive perspective. He may worry about the small things like leaving the light on outside and locking the door but when it comes to the big picture even significant life stressors don’t seem to affect him in a way that brings him down or manifests on a physical level. My father is always open to change and interested in improving his health, at an age when most people just give up on improving he is striving for even more excellence. Anytime I have recommended a dietary change or supplement he takes it on full force and commits to following the protocol. Only a few months ago himself and my mum were inquiring about doing a cleanse, I can’t even get most people my own age to commit to a cleanse!
A weekday in the life of dad looks something like this:
5am – wake up, start a pot of coffee for himself and my mother, read the paper and prepare breakfast for the grandchildren when they are dropped off before school
8:30am – help my mum prepare the boys for school and shuttle them, along with the other neighborhood kids they look after, to school
9am – breakfast and supplements, 1 apple and bran cereal
10am-1pm – help mum with errands around the house and helping with mum’s in home neighborhood daycare, daily exercise routine (cycling, weight training routine, etc.)
1pm – lunch, usually some type of sandwich on whole rye bread or leftovers from last night’s dinner
2pm – afternoon nap
2:30pm – pick up first round of kids from school
3:30pm – pick up second round of kids from school
afternoon – online keeping up with cricket news around the world, emails, other world news, snack cheese and crackers or fruit
6-7pm – dinner, usually rice or legumes, with chicken or fish, green salad, and sometimes frozen yogurt, ice cream, or a piece of chocolate for desert
evening – watching Iron Chef, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Got Talent, CSI, or movie of the week with my mum, watching sporting events (without mum)
9-10pm – supplements and off to bed for a good night’s rest
Weekends are very similar except more time is spent relaxing in the morning, a more elaborate breakfast such as toast and eggs is on the menu, followed by errands and grocery shopping with mum, then laundry, cleaning, and outdoor chores while mum prepares dinner. Afternoon relaxation watching sporting events on tv and napping are also part of the routine. Weekend dinners will sometimes be a splurge of pizza or chinese food but always eaten in moderation and enjoyed fully.
The key to my father’s health is the joy in his routine. Although sometimes having a house full of kids during the week can be challenging I think this is one of the things that keeps him active and youthful. A combination of a consistent routine, daily activity, dedicated exercise time, daily naps and regular sleep habits, mental stimulation, and mindful eating are the key to my father’s longevity. What I have learned from his approach is that It’s more about how you view your life. Sometimes it’s not always about what you eat, how much you exercise, and taking the right supplement but it is always about how you perceive your own personal health habits. If you feel good about what your doing and are continually expanding on all levels no matter what age and enjoy life in a mindful way you will see the benefit. Just this past Christmas I observed him dancing to calypso Christmas music while doing the dishes, now that is the ultimate expression of fully enjoying every moment. Taking an ordinary task and making it an extraordinary moment of joy is something my dad has mastered.
I should also mention that my dad is a cancer survivor having healed from prostate cancer at the age of 62 and seems to be getting healthier as the years pass. Since that time he has had a few minor health problems but instead of looking at them as his body deteriorating he has used these challenges to improve even more and keep the momentum of change moving in a forward direction.
My father is one of the best reminders of how to live beyond your physical age, all these lessons I take with me always in my daily life.
wishing you a fresh, nutritious, and delicious day!
Michelle Waithe, holistic nutritionist ar Fuel Nutrition