Posts tagged “health

Five Tips to Balance Blood Sugar for Energy and Vitality

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Balancing blood sugar levels throughout the day is the key to steady energy, balanced moods, and clear thinking.  Have you ever wondered why your energy levels crash in the middle of the day? or for no reason at all you find yourself upset or stressed over something that shouldn’t really bother you? Many times fluctuating blood sugar levels can be responsible for these maladies and there are a few simple things you can do about it.

1. Start your day with a super food smoothie

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Fuel’s super green smoothie

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Fuel’s cacao maca smoothie

A simple smoothie made from a high quality protein (we are fans of Sun Warrior and Vega over here at Fuel), unsweetened non dairy milk such as almond or coconut (coconut water is another great option) natural sweeteners such as dates or frozen fruit, soaked raw nuts and seeds for extra creaminess and healthy fats, and super foods like raw cacao, chia, greens powders, or hemp makes the perfect breakfast to infuse your day with energy.  This also makes a great afternoon snack to get you through until dinner.

2. Eat clean

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shopping at the local market for the Fuel meals, we use only the freshest ingredients!

Always choose whole foods over refined and processed products.  Refined sugars and processed foods contaminated with artificial ingredients put a huge stress on your body.  Many people look to refined sugary products for a quick energy boost because their blood sugar is often way out of balance.  When you turn to these foods the cycle simply continues, a momentary increase in energy always results in a crash leading you to more sugary foods.  We need real food to function at an optimal level.  The body has no idea what to do with artificial flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives.  These ingredients create physiological stress on the body and eventually throws metabolic processes way off track.  Using fresh ingredients is always the best choice!

3. Eat smaller more frequent meals throughout the day

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how to eat the Fuel way…each vertical row represents a day’s worth of meals on the Fuel plan

Long gone are the days of ‘three square meals’!  The vey best way to keep your metabolism ‘Fueled’ and blood sugar balanced is to have smaller more frequent meals.  The body does not like to digest large quantities of food at one sitting nor does it function optimally by skipping meals throughout the day and then consuming most of your calories at one meal.  In order to have sustained energy the human body thrives on moderate portions of clean, whole foods eaten every few hours, this is the best way Fuel to your active lifestyle!

4. Incorporate exercise throughout your day

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Desk-ercise anyone?

Many people think that if they get a daily workout in at the gym this is enough, not so!  I am a big fan of scheduled workouts, I look forward to mine daily, however if you are sedentary for the greater part of the day and then hit the gym hard this actually creates stress in the body.  Incorporating simple movements throughout your day is a great way to warm up the body for more intense exercise and keep the metabolic fires burning all day long.  Even if you sit at a desk 8 hours a day just getting up to stretch and walk around the office every hour will help.  We all know the ancient wisdom of taking the stairs, parking further from your destination, walking instead of driving, cliche as it sounds if you add it all up it really does make a difference.  Movement throughout the day is an excellent stress reliever as well, taking a break for a short walk will inspire creativity even in the midst of looming deadlines, you will always find yourself more productive in the end I promise!

 

5. Take time to just chill out!

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Taking time to decompress and unplug from the craziness of life will do wonders for your body, mind, and spirit.  When we are in a constant state of sensory overload our bodies produce excess cortisol which sends blood sugar on a roller coaster ride.  Taking time throughout your day to stop what you are doing and take a few deep breaths is a great habit to get into.  Just like you schedule your workouts and business appointments schedule breaks during your day and make an appointment with yourself for rejuvenation each and every day.  Doing anything that is for no other reason than pure joy can be considered a rejuvenating activity.  When was the last time you did something just because it was fun?

These tips offer a great jumping off point to more energy, less stress, and an overall feeling of wellness.  Often times we overwhelm ourselves with complex rules of how to achieve optimal health when really all we need to do is take a few baby steps.  Once you change a few easy to modify habits your increased vitality will direct you to make even greater changes and soon you will find yourself easily doing a juice cleanse with the drop of a hat!

Cheers to your increased vitality!

Michelle Waithe, holistic nutritionist at Fuel

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Is Organic Really Better?

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


What is Your Perception of Health?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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