Top 5 Tips for Making Sustainable, Lasting Lifestyle Change

Hi friends! 

In the spirit of the new year and new decade, and in lieu of all the “new year, new you” type messaging that is rampant in January, I am sharing my top 5 tips for making sustainable lifestyle change. 

In my practice, I help my clients make lasting diet and lifestyle changes, and incorporate healthy habits so that they can feel their best. I do not promote one diet, or one way of life, or even one definition of health. I help my clients figure out what their health goals are, and how they can best work towards them in a sustainable, simple way.

Diets, detoxes and cleanses are heavily promoted in January, however they often do not work to improve habits long term, and can contribute to a yo-yo-diet cycle, unhealthy relationship with food and a detachment from your own intuition about your body and your needs. They can be restrictive, prescriptive and difficult to follow long term, without taking into consideration your schedule, behaviour, personal preferences and variances of your day-to-day. Of course, if these work for you, that is totally great! Do what works for you! I am simply trying to shed light on a different way and be a voice for building healthy habits at a sustainable rate. 

Over the last 6 + years of coaching, I’ve learned what works and what does not work when attempting to make a change to your lifestyle. Today I am sharing 5 starting points for building healthy habits and making a sustainable lifestyle change. 

Please let me know what you think and if you find this information helpful! I really hope it is! 

1. FOCUS ON YOUR “WHY?”

Why are you choosing these goals for yourself? Why do you want to make a change? 

Understanding the reasons why you want to make a change is incredibly important when taking the steps to do so. Write down your “why”, and keep it front of mind, all throughout the process. If you are confronted with challenges, hurdles and choice, being able to use your “why” as motivation can be very helpful. 

Ultimately, you are making a change for yourself, and your reasoning is completely your own. With nutrition, we have a lot of external messages from the media, friends, family and other practitioners, telling us what we should or should not do. I find that those who are attempting to make a change because they feel they should, are less likely to stay motivated and may even resist change or become resentful. Keep in mind that no one is forcing you to do anything! Connect to your own personal reasoning and you will likely find that making a change becomes a whole lot easier :)

2. TUNE INTO YOURSELF AND YOUR PERSONAL NEEDS

Since you are making a change for you, it has to actually work for you. For habits to form and change to be sustainable, it has to make you feel better and work within your lifestyle.

First, be realistic with your schedule and current routine. If you are a busy mom, young professional, student or work long shifts, your schedule will vary and the foods/meals that work for you will be different. 

Second, make sure that the changes are actually working for you and your health. Do you feel full and satiated after all your meals? Or are you preoccupied with food and craving foods throughout the day? Do you feel energized throughout the day? Or are you tired with energy fluctuations? Do you feel your workouts are properly fuelled? Or are you struggling to make it through your regular workout routine? Does your digestion feel right? Or do you feel bloated after you eat? These are a few things to think about to make sure that the changes are actually working for you. 

3. CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF AND HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE

Making a change can be difficult, which is something that I think can be helpful to acknowledge. Having an accountability partner, or a system for staying accountable to yourself, can be very crucial. Decide what you want to change, or add to your lifestyle, and create a system that works for you. One system can be to keep track of change in a notebook/agenda or calendar. Another can be to have an accountability partner, which also makes things more fun! 

Checking in and holding yourself accountable can be very beneficial. Let’s use a real-world example. I have a client who wanted to eat more vegetables. She knew her reasons for wanting to make this change, and we figured out a way to make this easier for her. We decided she would start with eating one serving of vegetables, twice per day. To stay accountable she added two green check marks in her agenda/calendar every day that she ate her vegetables. From there, she could check in with herself on a weekly basis and see how she did. She noticed that she ate her vegetables during the week, but often missed out on weekends. We could then figure out the reasons why (i.e. due to social engagements, change of schedule/routine, eating out at restaurants) and strategize specific ways get vegetables in on the weekend. In no time, eating vegetables regularly became a habit that they did not need to actively think about anymore. They then increased the amount of vegetables that they ate throughout the day, which also became a lot easier.

This is an example, and may seem extreme to some. Not everyone would benefit from this specific system or type of accountability, but I do encourage you to figure out a system that works for you!

4. REALISTIC AND SMALL CHANGES

Any change you make needs to be realistic, and not too large. I often create goals for my clients that are based on their current lifestyle. For instance, let’s say a goal of yours is to start eating breakfast. First, you have to make sure it is a realistic goal. Questions I would ask you would be “Do you feel hungry in the morning?” “Do you have time in the morning?”

Second, the goal has to be small enough to be doable. It is unlikely you would go from no breakfast to an elaborate breakfast every day. I would start with trying to include breakfast 1-2 days a week, ensuring you have enough time to eat breakfast, and then provide easy breakfast options that you can make in under 5 minutes. Once you got into the habit of making a few different items 1-2 days per week, we can increase the number of days that you eat breakfast and even the types of breakfast you enjoy. Whatever change you want to make, I encourage you to break it down into small, manageable and incremental goals to make sure they are doable and realistic for you. 

On the topic of being realistic, I also think it is very important to be realistic about your barriers and potential hurdles. This way you can strategize appropriately and not be thrown off when they come up. I have a whole blog post on common hurdles that my clients face, and how to overcome them. 

5. DO AND EAT THINGS THAT YOU ENJOY!

It is very important that when making a change, you are enjoying it.  In the context of dietary changes, it is important that you are eating foods that you actually enjoy. If you are not enjoying the meals and food you are eating, and if you feel restricted, it will be very difficult to continue. Eating healthier and living a healthy lifestyle can be fun and delicious, and it is important to make sure it is!

Thank you so much for reading this post! Again, I hope you found it helpful. If you are feeling stuck and want to make a change to your diet, these tips are a good starting point. Of course, if you would like support along the way do not hesitate to reach out!!

-SG

Happy Holidays + A Recipe Roundup

Happy December, and Happy Holidays!

The holiday season is a time of year that I absolutely love. I grew up in a interfaith household and celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. This time of year is filled with memories of family, relaxation and good food. My family is a very food-focused family, and coming from a both Jewish and Italian background, food is generally at the center of our gatherings. Celebrating food, in all forms, is very important to me and I am consistently grateful that my family and I get to choose what we feed ourselves, what we get to cook, and that gathering around a table is a way to celebrate and connect with one another. 

With this, I wanted to do a roundup of recipes from around the web! Everything can be found on my Pinterest board. I love sharing recipes that I find, and I hope this can serve as inspiration for your own holiday meals!

ENJOY! 

SIDE DISHES

First, I compiled some delicious looking plant-forward side dishes. Roasted cauliflower, brussel sprouts, potatoes and squash are just some of the recipes I have saved!

For the recipes, visit our Pinterest board!

SALADS

I included some salad recipes, which is always a nice addition to a holiday meal. It is also a way to get more veggies in, which I am always trying to do ;)

For salad recipes, visit our Pinterest board!

LATKES

I had to add a whole bunch of latke recipes to this board, as latkes are a traditional food enjoyed during Hanukkah. I included more traditional latke recipes, as well as ones made with other root vegetables such as sweet potato and beet. You can also add grated zucchini for some freshness, and of course top with either sour cream or apple sauce.

For latke recipes, visit our Pinterest board!

CHEESE BOARD AND SNACK BOARD INSPO

Nothing is better than a delicious cheese board, or snack spread, especially when hosting a party over the holidays. Check out the Pinterest board for lots of inspo!

For cheese board inspo, visit our Pinterest board!

DESSERTS

Ginger cookies, sugar cookies or a chocolate pompegrante taste. These are a few desserts that I have saved, and can’t wait to try making myself.

For dessert recipes, visit our Pinterest board!

DRINKS

Fun holiday cocktails and hot drinks to celebrate the holiday season!

For drink recipes, visit our Pinterest board!

I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it is a good source of inspiration for your holiday meals! Sending love to you all, and Happy Holidays! <3 <3 <3

-SG

Alcohol + Health; Tips For Finding The Balance

Today’s blog post is going to discuss alcohol, and it’s role in our health. I personally enjoy alcohol in moderation and love a crisp glass of wine, a sour beer, a fresh cocktail or a warm whiskey. I incorporate alcohol into a healthy lifestyle, however I know it is not for everyone. If you are like me and want tips for how to enjoy alcohol, in moderation, as part of a healthy lifestyle, then this post is for you! 

Before I continue with this post, I do want to include a disclaimer here that I am talking about alcohol in moderation, and specifically speaking to those that enjoy alcohol, but who could easily do without. If you feel a dependence or reliance on alcohol, or if alcohol abuse or addiction is a concern, please refer to the following resources:

Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health 

Online Support Group 

Alcohol has been linked to both positive and negative health outcomes and health concerns. Before discussing the concerns with alcohol, I want to quickly review the potential positive health outcomes. There is some research to indicate that low or moderate alcohol consumption (specifically red wine) can be beneficial for heart health due to the antioxidant content. However, there are many other foods that can be equally as beneficial to our heart health, and based on what I’ve read, there is no need to drink alcohol for our health.

The concerns associated with alcohol consumption:

1. Folic Acid Depletion; One potential concern of drinking too much alcohol is that it can deplete folic acid and other vitamins/minerals from the body. This may be of extra concern for you if you are looking to get pregnant within a year, vegetarian/vegan or if you do not eat a particularly nutritious diet. You can always check your folic acid levels, enjoy foods high in folic acid such as leafy greens, beans and whole grains, or even take a supplement. Always talk to your health care provider before starting any supplements, especially if you suspect folic acid may be a concern for you!

2. Dependence; Drinking regularly can increase tolerance and increase dependence. You can evaluate your drinking here, to see if this may be an issue for you. 

3. Sleep; Although some find that alcohol helps them fall asleep, alcohol may actually decrease the quality of sleep and may lead to a disrupted sleep in the end. Alcohol can interfere with REM cycle and decrease REM sleep, which is the truly restorative sleep that leaves you feeling more refreshed and awake in the morning. As far as I’ve read, 1-2 standard drinks typically does not impact sleep, especially if you are drinking well before bed. So again, another case for moderation here! 

4. Mood; Alcohol is considered a depressive and can impact our mood negatively. This is personally one of the biggest downsides for me. If I have have one too many glasses of wine, I do feel a bit down the next day. For a while I was keeping a ‘mood journal’ to track symptoms of depression, and I almost always had a lower mood after drinking the night before. If you have depression or have trouble with low mood, pay attention to how you feel after drinking alcohol. Keeping a journal, like I did, may be a useful tool to help you make the connection between diet, lifestyle and your mood!

5. Blood Sugar; Alcohol can impact your blood sugar in various ways, and alcohol may affect you in a different way if you have diabetes. Alcoholic mixed beverages made with soda or juice may also be high in sugar, while alcohol consumption may increase hunger and affect judgement, which may lead to an increased likelihood of reaching for carbohydrate-rich foods when consuming alcohol.

Now, let’s talk about how you can incorporate alcohol in a healthy way! 

TIPS

  1. Enjoy in Moderation; The word ‘moderation’ is thrown around a lot, but there is an actual definition for moderate alcohol consumption; under 10 drinks per week for women, and 15 for men with no more than 2 drinks per night. One drink = 12 oz beer, 5 oz glass of wine, 1.5 oz glass of spirits/liquor. Consciously limiting alcohol intake to those times that you really enjoy it as opposed to drinking out of habit, or even out of thirst, can be helpful. Before going for a drink you can think about whether or not you would get the same satisfaction from sparkling water, or a non-alcoholic beverage. This may sound silly but I know many people who go for a beer to quench their thirst, when really they could drink water. 
  2. Enjoy low sugar drinks; Many drinks are consumed with added sugar, like in a cocktail. A mixed drink with juice or pop can include 21 g of sugar or more (to give you reference, it is generally encouraged to limit added sugar to 40-50g/day). One tip is to enjoy cocktails with minimal added sugar and mix your spirits with lemon or lime juice, sparkling water and herbs for something healthier and fresh. Similarly, wine can also contain quite a bit of sugar. A sweet wine can contain 30g/L of sugar, compared to a dry wine that could contain 2-6g/L. When drinking wine opt for an extra dry (XD) wine. You can check the sugar content of all wine either online or at LCBO, on the label right under the bottle.
  3. Hydrate; Alcohol can be dehydrating, and this dehydration can lead to headaches and fatigue the next day. Stay hydrated before, during and after drinking alcohol. Drink a glass of water in between each drink, and continue to drink water until you go to bed.
  4. Nourish your body before, during and after drinking alcohol; This will help to stabilize blood sugar levels, replenish the body with any lost nutrients and generally help you feel good as drinking is associated with an increased likelihood of reaching for less healthy foods. Try not to drink on an empty stomach, and if you are snacking try cheese, olives, crackers, vegetables and hummus, or enjoy a meal with vegetables, a good quality protein and healthy fat.
  5. Be mindful of allergens, additives and preservatives in drinks; If you have food allergies or intolerances, this will apply to drinks, as well. If you are celiac or sensitive to gluten, it is important to avoid beer, which is made from wheat, and any alcohol made from a grain like rye whiskey. Wine and cider may also contain preservatives like sulfites, which may contribute to sensitivities and symptoms like headaches, skin flushing and cramps. Clear spirits are generally the safest option for most allergies, but it is important to read labels and ingredients, even on alcohol bottles.

Lastly, I want to encourage you to be mindful of those that do not drink, and when hosting a party allow there to be options that are equally as appealing. Below I am sharing a recipe, that is enjoyable with or without alcohol to be as inclusive as possible! 

Gin + Herb Cocktail with Edible Flowers

Ingredients:

(Per drink)

1 oz gin

1/2 cup sparkling water

Juice of 1/4 lemon + slice of lemon (any citrus works!)

Spring of rosemary, mint or both

1 large ice cube, or 2-3 smaller ice cubes

Edible flowers, to garnish

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together. Garnish as you like!

This cocktail can be made just the same without the gin, and replacing it with a bit more sparkling water!

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you learned something and now have a new drink recipe to enjoy!

-SG

Veggie Burger Recipe

Hello friends!

Today I am posting a recipe for a veggie burger, which I am really excited to share. Finally, and after many attempts, I create a recipe that I am happy with, and one that I have actually been craving every day since I made them. I love veggie burgers, and although I eat meat, I often prefer veggie burgers. You can load them with all of your favourite toppings. Mine include lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, ketchup, pickles and onions.

These burgers are hearty and healthy, full of protein, fibre and iron. This recipe is full of whole foods and includes kidney beans, which are wonderful source of plant-based protein, fibre and iron ( ~13.4g protein, ~ 13.6g fibre and ~5mg per 1 cup of beans), as well as pumpkin seeds ( a great source of healthy fats!), brown rice, carrots and onions.

The buns that I used are Sprouted Hills burger buns. I love Sprouted Hills products, and already mentioned this company in this article about bread. Sprouted Hills is a Canadian family company, and they use sprouted grains in all of their bread products. Sprouted grains are easier for the body to digest, and generally more nutritious, as the sprouting process makes some vitamins, like B vitamins, more bioavailable. Silver Hills uses simple, whole ingredients and their mission is to empower people to make healthy choices- a mission we both share!

Before I continue on with the recipe I wanted to let you know about this awesome *GIVEAWAY* Silver Hills is hosting an amazing sweepstake, so that you can stock up on all the sprouted products this summer and beyond! The prize is $1000.00. Here is the link to enter!!

VEGGIE BURGER RECIPE

Ingredients:

2 cups kidney beans

3 small carrots, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1 cup almond flour

1.5 cups cooked brown rice

2 tbsp tamari

1 TBSP apple cider vinegar

Sea salt

Pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Add chopped carrots and onions into a pan with sesame oil and salt into a pan. Sauté until completely cooked.
  3. Add this mixture to a food processor with the cooked kidney beans, cooked rice, almond flour, tamari, apple cider vinegar and pumpkin seeds. Pulse for about 1 minutes, until mixture is uniform.
  4. Line a baking tray, and create patties by taking a spoonful of the mixture, roll it into a ball and then press down to desired thickness.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, each side. If you want to grill these on a BBQ, I suggest cooking them first for about 30 minutes and then grilling them towards the end.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know if you try it, and ENTER THE GIVEAWAY! YAY!

-SG

*I received products from Silver Hills Bakery for this post :)

HOLISTIC NUTRITION FAQ

Hi friends!

Today I am answering some commonly asked questions regarding Holistic Nutrition. I have a FAQ page on my site, about Holistic Nutrition, but thought to make a space for these commonly asked questions on my blog, as well! These are questions I get asked on a weekly bases and I hope this post if helpful!

HOLISTIC NUTRITION FAQ

What is a Holistic Nutritionist? How does it differ from Registered Dietitian? 

A Holistic Nutritionist, is a health practitioner trained specifically in nutrition, and nutrition-related interventions. Holistic Nutritionists are trained to help with a variety of concerns and symptoms, as well as general lifestyle support. The word “holistic” simply means that we take a holistic perspective to health, understanding how diet, lifestyle, environment, mental and emotional wellbeing all play a role in ones health and all work together. However, I am personally finding the term holistic to be increasingly less meaningful, as many practitioners, in many fields today have a holistic perspective.

Now the term nutritionist is confusing. “Nutritionist” is an unregulated term and can be used by anyone. You will see both Holistic Nutritionists and Dietitians use this term, along with others who may not be certified or registered. A certified or registered nutritionist will have designation behind their name. You will see RD, for Registered Dietitians or the designation CNP or RHN for certified Holistic Nutritionists.

The difference between a Registered Dietitian and a Holistic Nutritionist is mainly the training and schooling, which relates to the context within which each practice. Holistic Nutritionist are trained to work in private practice, and/or for larger organizations within the private sector. The training is heavily focused on 1:1 or group coaching, individualized and personalized health, with a very food-focused approach to nutrition (i.e. cooking, prepping, how to work with food, instead of focusing on isolated nutrients). The training is limited in that it does NOT set you up to work within the public sector, within the healthcare system (i.e. hospitals, community health centres), or work with high-level clinical nutrition (i.e. tube-feeding etc. or medical/complex diseased states). The training to become a dietitian is longer and more extensive as it sets you up to work with much more complex cases that need a deeper understanding of nutrition within the healthcare system. Registered Dietitians also work in private practice, and this is a space we both share.

Are your services covered under insurance?

Nutrition services may be covered within your extended benefit plan. After each session, we provide a receipt with all relevant information for you to send in to your insurance company. If seeing a nutritionist is contingent on your insurance covering these services, it is your responsibility to check your specific plan before making an appointment. Some plans only cover Registered Dietitians (RD’s), so you have to make sure your plan covers CNP nutritionists, as well. Another common misconception is that we are Naturopathic Doctors (ND’s), and that our services can be covered under that designation, which they can not. It is a shame when you think you have a service covered, but it is not, so I always say to just double check with your specific plan before booking an appointment so that you know for sure!

What do you do as a Holistic Nutritionist?

A Holistic Nutritionist can help guide you to make healthy choices for yourself and your family, in a way that works for you. As a Holistic Nutritionist, I provide education and support, to help you feel your best. I base my 1:1 and group coaching around your idea of health/wellbeing and my approach is completely tailored to your individual needs, health concerns, goals, schedule/routine/lifestyle, health history and importantly, preferences. My approach is not prescriptive, and the focus is always on abundance, NOT deprivation/restriction. This has been my approach from day 1, and still remains.

As a Holistic Nutritionist, I am passionate about food, healthy-eating and generally helping others, and along with my private practice and helping my clients 1:1, I also develop workshops and presentations for both corporate and community settings, develop recipes for other brands, as well as write for my blog (this blog) Twist&Sprout. My ultimate goal, is to provide something for everyone, and have offerings for all needs.

What is it like to work with a Holistic Nutritionist? What do sessions look like? How many sessions should I book? What is included in a nutrition plan?

Working with a Holistic Nutritionist can vary in what it looks like. If you are looking for 1:1 coaching, we schedule private sessions, at a pace that suits you best. These sessions can be either in-office, remotely or at-home, and can include cooking sessions or grocery shopping sessions.

Generally, the first step is to book an Initial Consultation, which is divided into two 1-hour sessions. However, if you know you are just looking for grocery shopping or cooking sessions, we can schedule those without an initial consultation. The general process goes like this: The first session is part 1 of the Initial Consultation, and is where I ask you a bunch of questions, while assessing your health concerns and goals. Here I get a solid understanding of your lifestyle, schedule, food preferences, dislikes, your relationship with food and any barriers and hurdles that you may have to overcome. This provides me with the information to create a plan, and help you as best as I can. As part of the Initial Consultation, we schedule a second session to go over the initial plan together. Follow-up sessions are then scheduled as needed, or ahead of time. You can book as many sessions as you like, and there is absolutely no pressure to book a certain number of sessions. I typically see clients 3-6 times per year, but also see clients once per week or even for a single session or two in total.

Working with a nutritionist may challenge your beliefs. I think it is a common notion that seeing a nutritionist is super clinical, or that we are the food police, judgemental or that we do not understand “real life” concerns. Working with a nutritionist can actually be fun and enjoyable, and although we discuss serious matters, and sometimes very personal matters, I try to keep food discussions light-hearted and “real”. I am a real person, just like you, and there is no such thing as a perfect diet. I often relate to many of my clients, and their struggles, and this is a part of my job that I love. I personally do not have a top-down/authoritative approach, but instead I work on building a relationship and meeting you where you are at. This is generally the approach that many of my peers have, when working with their clients, as well.

A nutrition plan includes my recommendations for you, with meal ideas and can include a Monday-Sunday meal plan. I will sometimes recommend supplements, and often touch upon lifestyle habits.

How can you help? Why do people seek nutrition support or want to work with a nutritionist? What can I gain from working with a nutritionist?

Here are the main reasons my clients seek nutrition counselling and support:

  1. To help with digestive symptoms, such as bloating or other digestive issues
  2. To help with energy
  3. To help navigate the crazy world of nutrition, debunk fads and dull the “noise”
  4. To help with basic nutrition education – they are curious to learn more about nutrition, what the human body typically needs, and how food can support the body and overall health
  5. To help provide specific ways to include new foods and looking for recipe inspiration
  6. To help build a healthy relationship with food; eating mindfully, connecting with the body, understanding and honouring hunger/fullness cues etc.
  7. To help with isolated situations like eating at a restaurant, travelling, hosting parties etc.
  8. To help build healthy habits while living a busy lifestyle; particularly long work hours, shift-work or constant traveling. Similarly, to help build healthy habits for a family with picky children or while managing different dietary preferences or allergies within the household.
  9. To help with a specific plan for food allergies/intolerances. For instance, they were told by their naturopath or family doctor to eliminate certain foods and don’t know how to do so without feeling restricted
  10. To help with meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking for one, a couple or for a family with children

What is your approach? Do you follow or advocate for a certain diet or plan? Do you only help with weight loss?

My main, 7 -pilar approach can be found here. I have a general nutrition practice, and do not follow one way of eating, or being, and fundamentally believe that you need to truly find what works for you. I also fundamentally believe that seeing a nutritionist should be the opposite of following a “diet”, as I believe the point of working with a nutritionist is to get tailored advice, information and support. Everyone has their own set of concerns, goals, different genetics, time constraints, cooking capabilities, schedules, relationship to food, cultural background and food preference, and can not possibly all thrive on one way of eating.

Also, no I do not only help with weight loss, and I typically do not work with weight-loss as a primary goal. I believe there is much more to health than weight, and that weight is not a main measure of health. I focus on health habits and behaviours, for the benefit that they provide the body, regardless of size.

That is all for now! If you have ANY other questions regarding holistic nutrition, please let me know! I will continue to update this post with any other common questions that I get!

-SG

My Go-To Simple Slaw Recipe

Hi friends!

It is officially summer, which means it is officially BBQ/picnic/outside dinner season. Today I am sharing a recipe for my go-to simple slaw, which is perfect for the summer season. This is a recipe that I make almost weekly as I find it checks all the boxes; inexpensive, healthy, easy, keeps well and is versatile. Enjoy this salad as a side to a BBQ, bring it to a potluck, enjoy as a main meal with protein added and/or bring it for lunch. The options are endless!

I hope you like this recipe!

My Go-To Simple Slaw Recipe

Ingredients:

1/2 head of cabbage, or whole head of small cabbage

Large handful cilantro, chopped

Handful radishes, sliced

Handful green onions, chopped

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 TBSP rice vinegar

2 TBSP sesame oil

pinch of salt

*Top with sliced avocado and pumpkin seeds for a little extra something!

Directions:

Add all ingredients together in a bowl. Mix well. Keeps in the fridge for 5 days.

Please let me know if you try this recipe! Tag me @sarah_goldstein_nutrition on Instagram, if you do!

-SG

Nutrition Buzzwords…what do they all actually mean?

NUTRITION BUZZWORDS

Hello everyone! Today’s post is a bit of a long one, and one that has been a long time coming. Today, I am going through definitions of all the nutritional buzzwords that we may hear all around us; in the media, on package labels and in health articles. The purpose of this article is to help you to an informed consumer of nutrition information both in person, and online. 

“Fortified”

 We see fortified products all around the grocery store. Milk, orange juice and cereals are commonly fortified. To fortify means to add a micro-nutrient (vitamin or mineral) to a food product. This occurs with certain food products that have either lost micronutrients due to industrial processing, or added to a product that is commonly consumed within a population that typically has a certain deficiency. For instance, plant-based milks and juices can be fortified with calcium and vitamin D, in order to ensure proper calcium and vitamin D intake for those that do not typically consume dairy. Another common fortification that we see is with folic acid in cereal. Birth defects like spinal bifida were being seen in women in North America, and folic acid can help prevent these birth defects. Since cereal products were the highest consumed food product, it made sense to fortify cereal with folic acid to prevent spinal cord defects large scale. And, it worked!

Natural

This is a tough one, because it can mean so many different things. For most people, “natural” generally refers to an item that is as close to it’s form in nature. In food labeling, “Natural” typically means a food item that has been unaltered and does not contain preservatives, however this label is generally misused. To see the word ‘natural ingredients’ on a label means that the food product contains some items that have been unaltered, yet this food item can still contain preservatives and additives in the product as a whole. “Natural” is not an indication of health, and many foods that are “natural” can still contain high amounts of sugar, sodium and other ingredients that may not be the healthiest.

“Additives” and “Preservatives” 

An additive is any substance that is added to a food product. This can be to enhance the flavour, colour or to preserve. Preservatives are a type of additive, and these substances help to prolong shelf life, as well as limit growth of microbes found in food. Preservatives are a huge part of food safely, however research continually comes out about the potential negative health effects of certain additives and preservatives. Since preservatives are an extra substance, and not one that our body metabolizes or utilizes, it is good to limit the amount of food that contains preservatives, and other additives.

Organic”

Organic refers to the agriculture approach that certain farmers choose to follow.  Organic also includes the way food has been processed and handled. To become a certified organic product (USDA), there are strict guidelines that must be followed. A few organic farming practices and principles include: using no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, covering the crops, not adding food additives or hormones and no genetically modified products. Many food products can be labeled organic including boxed goods like cake, cookies, cereal etc. Now, whether or not organic is healthier is debatable. We know from a basic nutrition level, that organic produce is not more nutritious in that is does not have more vitamins and minerals. Yet, non-organic food can contain chemicals from the pesticide and herbicides, which can accumulate in the human body. My opinion is that organic food practices can be seen as more of a social, environmental and political food issue, which is my personal focus on the matter. I also don’t think that organic necessarily means healthier, especially on boxed goods. I still think it is important to think of each food individually, and sometimes it may be worth purchasing organic, whereas other times it may not matter.

“Metabolism” 

We often come across TV commercials and magazine ads that give us tips on how we can speed up our metabolism, yet we need to have a better understanding of what the word “metabolism” means. Metabolism is the general word that sums up all the biochemical processes that happen in the human body. Those biochemical reactions can be categorized into two significant reactions; 1) the building reactions and 2) the breaking reactions. The building reactions are called anabolic reactions, which are primarily responsible for building cells, repairing tissues and growth. Anabolic reactions consume energy in the process. Breaking reactions, are known as catabolic reactions and break down bigger molecules into smaller molecules to produce energy. In a nutshell, metabolism is the way our body utilizes all the macro-nutrients including, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats for us to maintain life.

Most of us have a baseline metabolism that is a mixture of genetics and lifestyle. For instance, athletes will have a higher metabolism due to their lifestyle and muscle mass. Certain foods and lifestyle factors may increase our metabolism, such as thermogenic foods ( like green tea, and chilli peppers, which raise our temperature and can help with the breakdown reactions), and exercise, but this is relatively very slight, and there is ultimately little we can do to truly change our metabolism on a day-to-day basis.

“Calories” or “low cal”

A calorie is the measurement of energy. One calorie is defined as the amount of the energy it would take to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius (33.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Calories can be used as a measurement of energy in food, but it is still complex. A food may have a certain amount of calories, but it does not mean we utilize all of this energy.

Low Calories” means that it is a food item low in calories. On a food label, this means it contains less than 40 calories per serving size.

Calories are simply a measurement of energy in food, and not a measurement of nutrition or health. This is important to keep in mind. We need a certain amount of energy from food, and we generally try to get nutrient-dense foods.

“Empty calories”? 

We just learned that calories are the measurement of energy in food for our bodies. Empty calories are calories (aka energy) with little to no nutritional value i.e. does not contain vitamins, minerals, protein or fibre.  Refined food like cakes, cookies, sweetened beverages, candy are often referred to as empty calories in that they provide the body with energy, but not a lot of nutrition.

“Antioxidants”

Blueberries, red wine, coffee, chocolate…you may have heard these foods are rich in antoxidants- and they are! But, what are the benefits? Essentially, antioxidants prevent body cells and tissues from damage. Let’s break down the word – “Anti” means against, and “oxidant” means an oxidizing agent. An oxidation reaction is one that occurs in our body, and as a result produces something called ‘free radicals”. Free radicals can cause damage to cells and tissues, which may contribute to certain disease developments, such as cancer. Antioxidants are nutrients that counteract free radicals, essentially neutralizing their effect, and this can prevent and slow down tissue damage. Vitamin C, A, and E are all common examples of antioxidants. 

 “Dairy-free”

First, let me define what “dairy” means. Dairy is any foods that contain milk or milk products coming from mammary animals such as, cows, camels, and goats.  So dairy-free” is a food that does not contain any animal-based milk products. Foods that are typically labeled “dairy free”, are foods that otherwise contain dairy. For instance, dairy-free milk, cheese, sauces or dressings.

Any person who is vegan, plant-based, lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy would generally consume “dairy-free” predicts. Once again, dairy-free does not mean healthy

 “Lactose Free” 

The term “dairy-free” can often get mixed up with “lactose-free”. Lactose is sugar that is found in milk and its products. Lactose is broken down by a digestive enzyme called lactase. Individuals may be deficient in lactase, meaning they can not break down lactose. This causes digestive disturbances.

However, if you have an intolerance or allergy to dairy, it may be other components of the dairy that are impacting your health. Lactose-free products may not be particularly helpful and you may need to avoid dairy as a whole.

“Paleo” 

A paleo diet is one of the ancient nutritional approach and a diet that is popular. This diet is to mimic an ancestral diet, and is void of grains, legumes, packaged items and dairy.

“Gluten-Free”

 Gluten is the name of the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. It makes dough stretchy and gives bread its sponge-like texture. Celiac disease is an allergy to this protein, and can cause an array of symptoms. Individuals may also experience digestive issues from gluten, even without a celiac diagnosis. Gluten-free products are more popular, and can even be considered a trend. Gluten-free does not mean healthy and often labeled “gluten-free” items contain other refined starches such as tapioca starch and potato starch. Yes, this maybe necessary if you are celiac, but if you avoid gluten it is often best to enjoy naturally gluten-free items.

 “Anti-inflammatory”

Anti-inflammatory foods are foods that are linked to reducing the inflammatory response in the body, or foods that are connected to lowering inflammatory markers in the blood. Many foods are said to be anti-inflammatory, and these are basically otherwise healthy foods such as healthy fats, fruit and vegetables.

I hope you found this blog post informative! When we see these buzzwords plastered throughout food products at the grocery store or mixed into articles, it can get overwhelming. Knowing what these words actually mean can help you make healthy choices for yourself and your family, which is what I am all about!

-SG

Common Hurdles When Making a Change + How to Overcome Them

COMMON HURDLES + HOW TO OVERCOME THEM

Today I want to provide some tips for overcoming hurdles, especially as you are making a change to your diet. If you are a client of mine, you know that we always discuss your hurdles, or what you feel is preventing you from making a change you want to make. 

In my experience, nutrition information and education is incredibly necessary and important, however change does not happen if we do not figure out how to apply the information into your daily life. 

If you are experiencing a hurdle, that is preventing you from making a change, we can usually get to the bottom of it! 

Below I outlined some main hurdles that my clients face, and a starting point for how to overcome them. 

1. TIME

This is for sure the biggest hurdle that comes up in 1:1 sessions. It is very common to feel that we do not have the time to make a change that we want to make. Or feel that in order to be “healthy” we need a lot of time. I think this can come for having the expectation that change has to be massive, or all encompassing. It can also come from the expectation that healthy choices and healthy eating is time consuming. 

What I do first with my clients, is try to break it down. We focus on what they are realistically doing now, and how we can change things up with something that does not take more time. For instance, if a client is eating lunch out every meal, we find a healthier alternative that is equally as close/easy. If someone already allocates time to cook every week, we keep the pattern consistent but change up what someone is making. 

I am a big advocate for scheduling in meal planning time, which can include scheduling in time for grocery shopping and cooking. Actually adding in the time to your calendar or day planner means that it is a non-negotiable. Eventually, allocating time to grocery shop, plan meals, cook some things etc. becomes second nature and ultimately saves time. I am also a huge proponent of optimizing your time in the kitchen. This includes the idea of “cooking once eating twice”..or three or four times, cooking enough for leftovers and/or cooking a big batch of something for the week or to freeze for another date.   

I am also mindful of the time it takes to cook, and believe it is important to seek out recipes that specifically say they take under a certain amount of time. Being realistic with the time you have, and the time you want to spend cooking (even if it is zero), can be helpful in figuring out what will work for you. 

2. “ACTUALLY JUST DOING IT“

This is another common hurdle that I hear, and often in these exact words.  Sometimes my clients do not feel something tangible (i.e. time/cost etc.) is preventing them from making a change, but they just feel they may not do it. They have perhaps tried things in the past but have not kept up with the changes. They may feel that they will fall into old habits, or find the change too difficult to make, or feel defeated easily. 

I have two main tips for overcoming this hurdle. One tips is find your “why”. Find, understand and focus on your true motivation for wanting to make a change. Find your reason why, and keep this front and centre in your mind. The second tip is to be realistic. Change does NOT have to be all-or-nothing, and you can make small changes a little bit at a time until it becomes habit. Make things as easy and simple as possible for yourself. 

3. BORED/NOT ENOUGH VARIETY 

Another common hurdle or fear is that making a change will be boring, and will not include enough variety. A lot of my clients love food, love trying new things and get bored with food easily. They fear changing their nutrition will prevent them from experiencing a cool new food or recipe.

Healthy does not have to be boring. Healthy food does not mean boring blends meals. Again, taking away this all-or-nothing mindset can be helpful. I always say that what you eat the majority of the time will dictate how you feel the majority of the time. Health does not mean being strict, it is about finding what you can do in a realistic way. 

Many foods and recipes can be healthy, and there is an abundance of recipes that are both flavourful, exciting and nutritious. Check out my Pinterest boards for inspiration. 

Another tip is to buy new healthy cookbooks (I have lots of recommendations if you need them) and actively choose 1-2 new recipes every week. You can see how food can be exciting and new, yet healthy at the same time. 

4. FEELING RESTRICTED 

A big hurdle is the fear of feeling restricted, or that you can’t live your life while trying to be healthy. The first thing I say to this is that changing your lifestyle will NEVER work if you feel restricted. If you are not enjoying your food, and enjoying your life, it is unlikely that you will maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

You need to ensure that you are eating enough, and eating in a way that is filling. A lot of this comes down to simple nutrition and enjoying enough protein, fibre and healthy fat throughout the day. If you feel full and satiated from a pure nutrition perspective, you likely won’t feel restricted.

I believe it is also important to indulge, and enjoy food as part of celebrations (if you like this!) and going for dinner with friends etc. Your life does not have to revolve around food, or eating healthy all the time – it is all about the balance. A huge part of a healthy lifestyle is moderation, and enjoying different foods for different reasons.

Include foods that are flavourful and delicious. Another tip is to enjoy healthy food with friends. Instead of going out to eat one night, invite friends over for a home cooked meal and include a bunch of healthy things for everyone to enjoy. This is one way to enjoy company, feel you are still living your life, yet eating in a way that makes you feel good. 

5. MANAGING DIETARY PREFERENCES FOR MANY PEOPLE i.e. WHOLE FAMILY 

I have many clients who cook for their whole family, and need to manage their own health goals, with the dietary preferences of their family. Perhaps you have a partner and children, and everyone eats differently. This is pretty common, and quite a tough hurdle. 

One tip is to make a list of any common ground foods. Sometimes this is difficult but create a physical list of foods that everyone will enjoy- and cook based off of this. 

Another tip is to make a dish that can be altered for specific taste preferences. I.e. A vegetarian meal for a vegetarian in the household, but then cooking some meat for any meat eaters to have on the side. Or a dish that can include sauce on the side, instead of mixed in. 

One last tip is to have “build-your-own” nights, where there is a main focus or theme but then everyone can top or build their own. Common ideas include pizza or taco night!

6. COST 

Thinking that healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle is expensive, prevents some people from attempting to make a change.  This comes from the misconception that health is expensive. And yes, it very much can be portrayed that way, specifically on social media. Many health influencers promote expensive products and you may feel you need those to be healthy. Sometimes it is true that a “higher quality” item is more expensive. For instance, In the case of organic vegetables versus conventional vegetables, the organic vegetables are often significantly more expensive. As well, a healthier packaged good, like a cracker or cookie, is oftentimes more expensive than the alternative. 

However, you you do not need 12 dollars juices, a $20 dollar almond butter or $12 paleo crackers to be healthy. A lot to his comes down to personal preference and priorities. I say to set out a budget, and grocery shop accordingly. 

I do have a few tips to keep cost down. First, is to shop at grocery stores with lower prices. For instance, in Toronto we have No Frills, Food Basics or Cosco, which typically have lower prices on things like vegetables, meat and packaged goods. Another tip is to shop at bulk stores for things like flours, nuts, seeds, grains, beans, lentils and even snacks. Dried goods are generally less expensive than packages or canned goods. A third tip is to choose nutritionally equivalent, yet less expensive option for certain foods. For instance, seeds and seed butters are less expensive than nuts.  You can also try frozen vegetables and fruit, which is nutritious and often less expensive than fresh produce. My last tip is to revisit and rethink your portion sizes of more expensive food items. For instance, many people eat double or triple the portion of meat or dairy than is nutritionally necessary, and these are the items that are generally more expensive.

On a final note I think it is important to say that you are not alone. Change is VERY difficult. Changing your diet and your lifestyle is NOT easy. It is important to be kind and patient with yourself as you embark on a change, or improvement, of any kind. 

I hope you found this post helpful. Do these hurdles resonate with you? Try these tips out and if you need extra coaching please do not hesitate to reach out! 

Lentil Meatball Recipe

Hi friends!

Here is a recipe for vegan/plant-based meatballs. This recipe is full of protein and fibre, and is a hearty plant-based alternative to meat. You can enjoy these the same way you would traditional meatballs- top pasta, polenta or a vegetable like spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. 

I’ve been trying to limit my meat intake over the last few months, but still very much crave hearty meals. I find this recipe satisfying, filling and one that can be enjoyed by meat eaters and non-meat eaters alike!

I hope you enjoy this recipe! 

Lentil Meatballs

Ingredients: 

2 cups cooked lentils 

1 tbsp ground flaxmeal, presoaked in 2 tbsp water 

1 tbsp almond flour, or oats * may need more if the batter is too soft/liquidy

2 cloves garlic 

Handful fresh herbs: handful fresh herbs (parsley, basil, oregano)

1 tbsp dried herbs: basil, oregano etc. 

Salt, to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350. 
  2. Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor, until uniform. 
  3. Check the consistency of the batter; it should form into balls. If it is too liquidy add more almond flour or oats, if it is too dry add olive oil or water. 
  4. Form into balls and arrange on oiled caste iron skillet. Heat stovetop to medium heat and brown all sides of the meatballs. 
  5. Once browned, add to oven and cook for ~20 minutes. 
  6. Once cooked, take out of oven and add to whatever dish you are making. For this particular recipe I added tomato sauce, and baked it a bit longer and then topped with cheese and added it to pasta.

I hope you try this recipe, and please let me know if you make it!

-SG

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Hello friends!

Today I am posting a super easy creamy cauliflower soup recipe that contains a great amount of fibre and protein, along with a wide array of vitamins and minerals.

Cauliflower is the main vegetable in this soup and a few potatoes are added for some creaminess. White beans offer a great source of protein, and additional fibre. A plant-based cream leaves this soup creamy and satisfying, and all together this a great warm meal for the end of winter!

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower, chopped

5-10 baby potatoes

2 heads garlic, chopped

1 white onion, chopped

1 can white beans

6 cups broth of choice

1 cup almond, cashew or coconut milk

salt and pepper to taste

paprika, optional

olive oil, to cook

Directions:

1. Add chopped onions and garlic in a soup pot with a drizzle of olive oil. Simmer until cooked.

2. Add chopped cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add potatoes and broth. Bring to a boil and then let simmer until the cauliflower and potatoes are cooked.

4. Once the vegetables are cooked, add can of white beans and then blend all together either in a blender or using an immersion blender.

5. Once blended, continue to heat/add back to pot to heat. Add salt, pepper, spices and the milk.

6. Top with fresh herbs and a drizzle of milk/cream and enjoy!

I hope you like this recipe. Let me know if you make it!

-SG