Designed for More

"...I am fearfully & wonderfully made..."

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More Than a Pretty Face

Yesterday I finished an absolutely wonderful book:  Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. In it, Sheryl addresses the fact that, even in 2014, we don’t have true equality of men and women in the workplace or in the home. She thoughtfully unpacks the reasons, and then discusses how we can change things. She suggests that our world would be a better place for all (not just for women) if half of our countries and corporations were led by women and half of our homes were led by men. This book gave me a lot to think about; one of those being how much we value women’s various accomplishments. (Note: for more info about Sheryl and this book, check out www.leanin.org .)

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 I realized that we tend to place greater value on accomplishments that really don’t mean much, rather than actual meaningful accomplishments. The amount of media attention given to weight loss is a perfect example. Just about every single women’s magazine in your grocery store as at least part of it devoted to tips and tricks of how to lose weight, as if having a “perfect” body is the most important thing women should strive to achieve. (Disclaimer:  Don’t get me wrong – as a dietitian I have worked with many individuals, both men and women, whose weight was impeding their health and quality of life. So I absolutely see the value in weight management to manage and prevent chronic diseases, like diabetes, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, heart disease, etc.) But the ironic thing is, even though we are constantly bombarded with experts (and self-proclaimed “experts”) telling us how we can lose that last 10 lbs, as a nation, we are more overweight than ever before. Really, I think this massive focus on weight and looking a certain way has done more harm than good, perpetuating the stereotype of what “beauty” is, causing women (and men, as well) to look at their bodies critically, and placing a ridiculous amount of importance on achieving that beauty ideal.

Or how about the countless hours we put into trying to have the perfect house, perfectly dressed kids, and instagram-worthy gorgeous meals? I am just as much of a clean freak as the next person (if not more), but I have to regularly remind myself that having a spotless home is not the be all and end all. And I love to cook aesthetically-pleasing meals, but I don’t see that as a really important accomplishment.

Something is wrong when we place more importance on a woman losing 50 lbs than on the promotion she just received. Or profiling a woman on a talk show or in a magazine because of her beautiful home, rather than because of the ways she regularly serves in her community. Or (and I know I will likely step on some toes with this next one, but I think it needs to be said) the huge celebration we make out of a woman getting engaged or having a baby. Now, I was thrilled when Stephen and I got engaged and when we got married (and I still absolutely LOVE being married to him and doing life with him), but I don’t see that as the biggest accomplishment of my life. As well, I’m excited to one day have kids and get to raise them with Stephen, but, again, I don’t see me having a baby as the purpose of my life. Again, if I offended you, I’m sorry, but I hope you can see the point I’m trying to make here. We tend put more weight on certain accomplishments than others, and I think it’s more harmful than helpful.

How wonderful would it be to live in a world where we threw a huge celebration for a woman who just received a grant to be able to start her research that may save countless lives ten years from now? Or for a woman who spent her lifetime positively reshaping the school system in her city. Or who was asked to present at an influential conference in her industry. What if we placed more value on a woman’s contribution to bettering the lives of the people living in her city, than on the fact that she lost 30 lbs?

I think that when we focus more on the superficial accomplishments (looking perfect, losing weight, having the perfect home, etc), we send the message to our girls that how they look is more important than who they are and what they can do. I know that is not the message I want to send to my daughter. I want her to grow up knowing that she is more than a pretty face. I want her to know that she is smart, creative, capable of great things, and that her worth comes from who God says she is, not from what people say or how she looks. I want her to choose whether or not she wants to get married – and for her to know that either choice is okay. I want her to know that if she chooses to not have kids or is unable to conceive, that she is not less of a woman. I want her to know that making a difference in her world, whether through paid or unpaid work, is more important than having the perfect house with the perfect kids and the perfect partner. I want her to feel celebrated for her real accomplishments, and that that celebration will motivate her to work harder and strive to truly make a difference in our world. I want her to look after her body, not so that she can try to achieve the unrealistic standards of beauty set out for her by society, but so that she can be healthy and strong. And I want her to know that she truly can be whatever she chooses to be:  a teacher, an architect, a full-time stay-at-home mom, a nurse, a politician, etc. And I want her to know that she can strive to be a leader in her chosen field and in her community.

There’s no simple answer to this challenge we find ourselves in. And it’s often overwhelming to look at massive issue like this and feel overwhelmed. But I truly do think that this can change. It may be gradual, but it will change when we EACH address our own thoughts about this matter, as we engage in conversation about this, as we talk about this with our daughters, our friends, and those we mentor, and as we, by our words and our actions, truly begin to place more value on the accomplishments that really matter. I believe that we as women have been distracted for far too long by the unimportant.

Hilary Rodham Clinton said “Women are the world’s most underused resource.” I think she’s right. As we stop allowing ourselves to be distracted by maintaining the external things and really join together with other women – AND with men, if we celebrate our accomplishments and the accomplishments of our daughters/sisters/mothers/friends/colleagues, I believe we would see incredible positive changes in our world.

xoxo Kristy

Note:  I focused on girls and women, but I believe that we also need to look at how we’re raising our boys and the message we send to men. Boys should also be raised to know that the difference they make in our world is more important than how much money they make, that they are not less of a man if their wife makes more money than them, and that they can choose to do whatever they want to do – whether they choose to work in a male-dominated field or in a female-dominated field or if they choose to be at home full-time. That’s all I’ll say for now – this could be a whole other post :)

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Food Snob

She proudly proclaims that she’s now gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, everything-free (despite actually having celiac disease, gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, or a milk allergy). She posts beautiful photo after beautiful photo of her #eatclean #sugarfree #glutenfree #imbetterthanyou meals (ok, so maybe I added that last hashtag). We all know her. She’s a food snob. And she’s driving me nuts.

We live in a time when nutrition information (accurate or not) has never been more accessible. While this has some benefits, it also makes my job as a dietitian very challenging. People are constantly bombarded with nutrition info, and if you don’t know how to sort fact from fiction it can be extremely difficult to know what and who to believe. I have women come into my office every day who are confused about what they should or shouldn’t be eating, because of the misinformation and conflicting information they have heard or read. Another challenge in this age of mass-nutritionism is that virtually anyone can be considered a nutrition expert, which further leads to confusion. You’re a celebrity with a hot bod four weeks after giving birth and you decide to write a book about food? Nutrition expert. You did a 6-month online nutrition program? Nutrition expert. You’re an expert in the area of fitness? Nutrition expert. As a result, we end up with heaps and heaps of nutrition information at our fingertips, although much of it is based on the food trend du jour, what can easily be sensationalized (hello, Dr Oz),  or bits of anecdotal claims, rather than on actual good-quality research.

So back to our food snob  (let’s call her Jane). Jane decides she’s tired of her less-than-desirable eating habits and decides to start cooking more and choosing healthier foods. She does some reading online from one of the abovementioned “nutrition experts” and discovers that dairy and gluten are apparently the absolute worse things she could eat and that she should cut out sugar cold-turkey, so she gives it a try. She feels better, has more energy, and has lost that 10 lbs she had been trying to lose for the past five years. Does she stop consider the fact that maybe the reason she feels so much better and has lost weight is because she has replaced her nightly ice cream, white flour bagels, and eating out, with an evening snack of berries, steel cut oats at breakfast, and cooking whole foods, rather than because she eliminated dairy, gluten, and sugar? Maybe, maybe not. But she decides that her dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free lifestyle is a miracle-worker and that everyone within her sphere of influence should know.

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Jane ends up thinking that her way of eating is the “right” way and that anyone who is still eating dairy must either not care about their health or must just be ignorant. Or perhaps she doesn’t actually think like this, but how she talks about and advertises her new eating habits causes people to feel like she thinks she’s better than them.

You probably know a “Jane” (or maybe a few). Or maybe YOU are her. Do you feel proud about how wonderful your eating habits are compared to everyone else? Do you like to broadcast to the world just how healthy you are? Are your instagram posts littered with “#______free” and “#no______”? I’m all for inspiring others to get back in the kitchen, learn how to cook, and choose real whole unprocessed foods, but I am NOT for turning food and nutrition into a status symbol and looking down our noses at people who don’t embrace the eating habits we have adopted. For instance, in our home we’ve recently begun eating less meat and more legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils). The more I’ve learned about the environmental impact of meat production, the conditions that most animals are subjected to, and the documented health benefits of a plant-based way of eating, the more I realized I wanted to make a shift in my eating habits. Now does that mean I think I’m better than you because you eat meat every day? Of course not! Do I believe it’s possible to be healthy while still eating animal products? Absolutely!

What I’m trying to say is that whatever eating habits you choose to adopt, consider the reason. Is it due to concerns about your health? Is it because that’s what all the popular people are doing? Because you saw it on Dr Oz?  Secondly, consider the message you’re sending to people with how you talk and what you post on social media. Are you building people up, or driving a wedge between you and others because they feel like you believe you’re better than them? Maybe you do genuinely think (whether consciously or subconsciously) that you’re better than  them. Examine your thoughts and your motives. And please recognize that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to nutrition.

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Food is meant to be something that it enjoyed, celebrated, savoured, and used to nourish our bodies. Let’s get back to thinking of it in that way, rather than thinking of food as a status symbol, a trend, or something to be stressed about.

You were not designed for comparing and pride. You were designed for MORE!

xoxo Kristy

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No more excuses

"Healthy eating takes time, planning, and can cost a lot of money. With today’s busy lifestyles…it’s easy to miss out on the nutrients we need from fruits and vegetables."

I read these words on a website for a fruit and vegetable supplement that a patient of mine had mentioned to me. At first it’s easy to think “Yes! Healthy eating DOES take a lot of time, money, and effort! No wonder I can’t eat well - it’s not my fault!” But I venture to suggest that it’s statements like these that contribute to less-than-ideal eating habits. If we can convince ourselves that eating well is just too much time/effort/money, then we give ourselves an excuse for staying in our poor eating habits.

So let’s unpack the statement above and then allow me to put forth a different way of thinking about eating healthfully.

                              

"Healthy eating takes time, planning, and can cost a lot of money." Yes, eating well requires effort - but anything worth having does! It takes time, energy, and planning to build a strong, happy marriage. It takes effort to create a home that’s full of love, joy, and laughter. It takes discipline to improve your financial situation. It requires money to take a course or work towards a degree that will help pave the way for your dream career. But all of these things are worth the time, effort, planning, energy, and money! So why would we not be willing to invest the time, planning, and money into eating well - something that has a HUGE impact on our physical and mental health and wellbeing?

Regarding the planning that healthy eating can require… I think we can often overcomplicate things. If you were plan out a week’s worth of meals, make a grocery list based on that meal plan, and them go grocery shopping to ensure you have the food you need for the week, you’d be looking at investing about 2-3 hours each week. It’s probably safe to say that we sometimes spend 2-3 hours watching TV just in one evening. So what if you took that time and invested it into planning out and shopping for a week’s worth of healthy meals?

What about the claim that eating well can cost a lot of money? There’s no doubt that certain fresh fruits and vegetables and skinless chicken breasts can be expensive. But there are lots of ways to shave dollars off of your grocery bill each week. Here are just a few:

- Choose frozen instead of fresh. Frozen fruits and veggies are just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts, but typically significantly cheaper (plus, you don’t have to worry about them going bad in the fridge!).

- Make things from scratch. It’s cheaper to buy a big bag of brown rice and then cook it and season it yourself than it is to buy a bag of flavoured instant rice. It’s way cheaper to bake a batch of healthy muffins at home than to buy storebought muffins. Or buy a brick of cheese and grate it yourself rather than buying a bag of shredded cheese. Also, you’ll save a ton of money by cutting up veggies yourself than buying pre-cut veg.

- Try more cost-effective sources of protein. Gram for gram, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas) are WAY less expensive than meat (not to mention super nutritious!). Or how about peanut butter or milk? Again, much more wallet-friendly than chicken breasts, ground turkey, or steak.

- Buy what’s in season. If you want pineapples or raspberries in November, you’re going to pay a huge premium. So take advantage of what’s in season: things like apples, pears, carrots, and potatoes in the fall, and apricots, strawberries, and tomatoes in the summer.

                     

"With today’s busy lifestyles…it’s easy to miss out on the nutrients we need from fruits and vegetables." Yes, we’re busy. We’re ALL busy. But I strongly believe we make time for what’s important to us. If it’s important to you to follow the latest trends and dress well, I guarantee you’ll find time to go shopping even admist your busy schedule. If working out is a high priority to you, you’ll go to the gym at 6am in order to get in a workout before work, or you’ll use your lunch-hour to fit in a spin class. The point is, regardless of how busy we are, we tend to fit in the things that we value. So if healthy eating is important to you, you’ll figure out a way to meal plan, go grocery shopping, and prepare healthy meals. I’d also like to challenge you to take a good look of what you’re giving your time to. Are you "too busy" to make supper in the evening, yet not too busy to watch your favourite TV show after work? Ouch. Sometimes the truth hurts.

My goal in writing this is not to make you feel guilty or condemned, but rather to show you that the excuses we make for our behaviour are what’s holding us back from changing (not a lack of time or money). It comes back to the saying “If you want something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done”. Just like your relationships, finances, and career, your health is worth it. It’s worth the effort, time, and resources. YOU are worth it!

Kristy xo

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The Butler

Saturday night, Stephen and I went to see “The Butler” - the amazing story of a man who worked as a butler in the White House to eight presidents admist the civil rights movement in the US. To say that the this is a powerful movie is putting it lightly. I felt like my heart was ripped in two and I found myself in utter shock of the unspeakable things that took place against African Americans. Even though this movie was raw and powerful in portraying what culture was like at that time, it also showed hope and the power of individuals joining together for a common good.

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As we drove home discussing the movie, there were two main themes that I kept coming back to: 1) no one deserves to be marginalized, discriminated against, and abused because of who they are; and 2) there is unbelievable power in individuals coming together to work for a common goal - even if it seems hopeless and futile at the beginning.

With these two themes in mind, I’ve been thinking about how these relate to my life, and I’d like you to do the same. Do you subconsciously (or consciously) discriminate against certain people? Maybe you have hurtful belief systems about certain ethnic groups that lead you to look down on them and treat them as “less than”. Maybe the idea of someone being gay makes you feel uncomfortable, so you throw around homophobic slurs which only serve to perpetuate stereotypes. Perhaps you’ve become so accustomed to judging a book by its cover that you tend to write off certain people without actually getting to know them.

It seemed unbelievable that just a few decades ago, black American kids couldn’t go to school with white American kids, or that black Americans had to use separate bathrooms - even separate water fountains! For someone who wasn’t alive during that time, these facts seem ridiculous, but these things happened, and prejudices and discrimination are still alive and well in North America. However messy it may be, I urge you to be honest with yourself about your beliefs and about how those are translating into your actions and affecting the people around you.

"The Butler" also left me with hope, though. Hope of what can happen with individuals purpose in their heart to make a difference and improve the lives of others. In this movie, the main character’s son becomes involved in various aspect of the civil rights movement, even though he knows very well that he’s literally putting his life on the line. He is beaten, spit on, arrested, and almost killed, but he is persistent because he knows that he and those he is working with are paving the way for other Americans. And when you look at the big picture, you can see how each rally, each march, each time someone refused to move to the ‘colored’ section of a restaurant, the movement was growing stronger and changes were coming.

What is it that’s on your heart that you feel a great desire to change but feel overwhelmed by? What injustices make you angry? Where do you see a need? I implore you to not let yourself be discouraged thinking “I’m just ONE person. What can I do?”. What if Martin Luther King Jr said that? What if Christine Caine, the founder of the A21 Campaign which works to stop human trafficking, said that? You know what’s remarkable? When someone sees a need or an injustice and decides to start doing something about it, other likeminded individuals begin to join. It’s like if someone were to want to donate to a certain cause, but thinks “All I can give is 20 bucks - what good will that do?”. But if a thousand people each gave $20, that’s $20,000! What if each of those thousand people felt like their $20 was too insignificant and didn’t give anything?

This week, take some time to reflect on what’s in your heart and what you’re passionate about. Allow your heart to be grieved. Allow yourself to see images that may make you uncomfortable, because I really believe that is sometimes necessary for us to be moved to action. It’s easier to not do anything if we don’t let ourselves find out too much, but when we KNOW what’s going on, when we see it with our own eyes, we are then COMPELLED to do something.

You were designed for more than feeling discouraged and sitting on your hands doing nothing while there are injustices all around us. You were designed to examine your heart, any prejudices you may hold, and what makes you angry and then use your life to work for change. You may be the only one at first, but as you step out others will join you. And then there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.

xoxo Kristy

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Weight vs Health

We’ve all heard it - Focus on HEALTH, not weight. I’ve said those words to tons of my clients as well. It’s SO easy to place such importance in the numbers on the scale, though. If we step on one morning and we gained two pounds, we feel disgusted with ourselves and feel like our day is ruined. We step on and see that we’ve lost two pounds, and we automatically feel better about ourselves. Our culture places a huge value on achieving the “ideal” body shape and size. It’s easy to become so focused on looking a certain way that we forget what’s really important. When did we let our weight become more important than feeling strong, being healthy, having piles of energy, and feeling confident in our own skin?

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If you can identify with those thoughts, you are not alone! I have found that EVERY girls and EVERY woman has those thoughts from time to time - even the girls who you might look at and think are perfect. I strongly believe that when we allow ourselves to get caught up in what’s “wrong” with us we forget about what’s RIGHT with us and, as a result, are not as effective as we could be - in our relationships, our job, our community, and our world.

BUT when we place our focus on being HEALTHY rather than on trying to achieve a certain look, we empower ourselves to be all we were desgined to be! When I say “healthy” what do I mean?

Strength

Vitality

Bodies functioning how they were created to function

Full of energy

Physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing

When your focus is on health, you will begin to choose healthy, nutrient-rich foods not because you feel like you “should”, but because you want to fuel your body with whole, nutritious foods. You’ll want to get out a go for a walk or bikeride, because you know that exercise is strengthening your body. You’ll take time for yourself to look after your mental health.

I’m not saying that you’ll never have days when you don’t like what you see in the mirror, but I am saying that you can re-focus yourself onto health and taking care of yourself so that you can achieve your purpose.

I want to leave you with the following thought:

We spend a lot of time, money, & effort working on being pretty on the outside, but do we spend time working on being pretty on the INSIDE? Have you ever spent time with a girl whose happiness, joy, and beautiful heart just radiated out of her? Her hair may not have been done perfectly or she may have not been wearing any makeup, but I guarantee you thought she was beautiful.

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You are beautiful xoxo

Kristy

Filed under health weight healthy healthyeating purpose identity nutrition beauty

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Making up the difference

These past few days I’ve been thinking a lot of how thankful I am that I have God in my life. I’m thankful I don’t have to try to go through life on my own strength, but that He’s walking with me and that I can go to Him for help, wisdom, and comfort. I’ve also been thinking about how tough it would be to deal with the challenges of life without Him. But first, let me backtrack a bit about what this has been on my mind lately….

As many of you know, I work as a dietitian and provide nutrition counseling to individuals, couples, and families. Many of my clients come to see me related to weight management concerns, and I’d venture to say that ALL of my clients, at one time or another, feel discouraged and frustrated as they’re trying to replace harmful habits with healthy habits.

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So what do you do when you’re trying to improve your eating habits and you feel frustrated and defeated?

  • Keep on pushing forward. Remind yourself that the ice cream isn’t going to do anything good for your body and keep walking past it.
  • Choose to live by what’s truly imporant to you, not by how you feel at that moment (when we live by our feelings it generally doesn’t end well).
  • Take a look at your environment and see where some modifications can be made. For example, do you buy chips each week when you go grocery shopping, even though you know they’re your weakness? (stop buying them! if they’re not in the house, they’re not as convenient, and you’re therefore less likely to eat them)
  • Remind yourself of WHY you’re trying to change your habits— remind yourself of why this is important to you and what you’ll gain from eating well and being active.
  • Be mindful of your thoughts and words. Are you regularly telling yourself you’re a failure? Is your mind consumed with thoughts of “I’ll never be able to do this”, “I always mess up”, “What’s the point?”, and the like? Begin speaking positive words over yourself. Look yourself in the mirror each morning and tell yourself (out loud) “I want to take care of body, so today I’m going to enjoy healthy foods in healthy amounts”.

I’ve seen these techniques helps numerous clients, so I know that they work. But what if you’ve tried changing your thoughts and the words you’re speaking to yourself, you’ve made your home an environment that’s conducive to eating well, you’re choose to not live by your feelings, but you still feel like you can’t quite get victory in this area?
 What can make the difference?

Jesus.

The Bible tells us that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13) and that we are “more than conquerors” through Jesus (Romans 8:37). He is the one who makes up the difference. He’s the one who’s always strong, even when we feel weak. He’s the one who wants to help us, he’s just waiting for us to ask.

Hence why I’ve been reminded lately of how amazing it is to do life with Jesus :)

If you’ve been trying to eat better, exercise more, lose weight, or trying to work on any other area of your life (maybe you want to manage your money better, or maybe you’re going through a rough patch in a relationship), God is the one who can help you get victory in that area! Seek out knowledge in the area you’re working on, get wisdom for individuals who are especially wise in those areas, and use those cognitive techniques I described above, but also know that God wants and is able to help you! He loves you so much and sees you as so incredibly valuable, that he wants nothing more than to have a relationship with you! You’re his kid!

So if you already know God, remember to ask him for help and know that you don’t have to keep struggling trying to do things on your own strenght. And if you don’t have a relationship with God, I’d love to chat with you :)


Kristy

Filed under nutrition healthyeating

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The Basics of Healthy Shopping

Has it really been almost TWO MONTHS since I last wrote??? I guess in the midst of planning/packing/moving/unpacking writing a blog post had slipped my mind! I back now, though, and really excited about what we’re going to talk about tonight!

This morning I had the opportunity to go for coffee with a wonderful woman and we spent a lot of the time talking about food and nutrition (one of my favourite topics of conversation!). And thanks to her suggestion, I watched the documentary “Food Matters”. If you haven’t watched this before, I encourage you to google it or find it on Netflix and check it out. As a dietitian I know very well how powerful foods are in our bodies, but watching this has reignited my passion to pass on this knowledge to others. So I’ve compiled a couple of rules of thumb to guide you in your grocery shopping and food choices as well as a “suggested foods” list thanks to a suggestion from a friend.

1) Choose foods that are as close to their natural form as possible (ie. fresh chicken breasts instead of chicken fingers, or steel-cut oats instead of flavoured quick-cooking oats)

2) If a food product has to try to convince you that it’s good for you it’s probably not (you don’t see a bag of apples or carrots screaming at you that they’re good for you, but you can certainly see tons of food packages boasting that they’re high in fibre/ low in sodium/ fortified with _____/ all natural/ etc)

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Foods to choose:

- Veggies and Fruit- These nutrition superstars should always find themselves on your grocery list and in your fridge. These foods are bursting with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and a host of phytonutrients that our bodies require in order to thrive. To save some money, stock up on some frozen berries and frozen veggies (they’re just as nutritious as fresh). Stay away from canned fruits and veggies, though. The heating process they’ve undergone will have destroyed the heat-unstable vitamins in them (like vitamin C). As well, canned vegetables are generally very high in sodium, and canned fruits typically have sugar added. We’re learning more and more about how the pesticides and herbicides on fresh produce are harmful to our health, so try to choose organic fruits and veggies more often (check out the Environmental Working Group’s website for which fruits/veg contain more pesticides, aka “the dirty dozen”, and which ones contain lower amounts, aka “the clean 15”- http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/).

- Healthy sources of Protein- Including protein at each meal is important for our good health, but it also helps us feel full for longer. We know that eating red meat often isn’t good for our bodies, so choose healthier sources of protein like fish, legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas), poultry, nuts and seeds (1/4 cup of raw pumpkin seeds gives you the same amount of protein as a small chicken breast!), eggs, and plain Greek yogurt. Stay away from processed meats of any kind (deli meats, sausages, hot dogs, etc)- they’re loaded with sodium, preservatives, and our way less nutrient-dense than the foods listed above. Also, while cheese is a great source of calcium and protein, it’s also really high in sodium and saturated fat, so try to keep your cheese intake to a minimum.

- Whole Grains- When it comes to grains in North America we typically just eat wheat (and some oats, rye, and rice), and most of these are refined (aka stripped of much of their nutritional value and also high on the Glycemic Index). But there are tons of whole grains that we’re missing out on! Quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, brown and wild rice, steel-cut oats, bulgur, and sprouted-grains bread (ie. Silver Hills bread) are all examples of nutrient-rich, minimally-processed, low-Glycemic Index grains (the Glycemic Index is a scale that ranks how much a food that contains carbs raises our blood sugar- we want to choose low-GI foods).

- Healthy Fats- There are 3 different types of fats: unsaturated, saturated, and trans. Unsaturated fats are the ‘healthy fats’ (stay away from trans fats and try to avoid animal sources of saturated fats). We find unsaturated fats in vegetable oils (like extra virgin olive oil and flaxseed oil), avocados, nuts, seeds (like chia and flax seeds, and raw sunflower/pumpkin/etc seeds), and fish (omega-3 fats).

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Please let me know if you have any questions about any of this! Also, I’d love to hear any grocery shopping/ food choice tips that you’d like to share! :)

xxoo Kristy

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How Your Relationship with Food is Affecting Your Kids

If you’re a parent - or if you plan on becoming a parent one day - this post is for YOU!

We know that parents’ actions have a big impact on their kids. Kids are like sponges that just soak up everything they see - which includes how their parents act, speak, and live. For instance, a child who grows up in a home where problems and disagreements are dealt with by yelling, name-calling, or even physical agression will grow up thinking that this is the way you solve a problem (unless that belief system is addressed and re-wired). Or a child who grows up on sugary cereals, fast food, and frozen pizzas will learn that this is how you eat, and may have a tough time changing his or her eating habits down the road.

The same goes for how you view food and eating. I’d like to share an example to illustrates this…

 

A year or two ago I was out for coffee with a high-school age girl and this principle came through loud and clear. This girl (I’ll call her Jessica) is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL teenage girl who has a healthy body weight. But she was caught up in the belief that she didn’t quite measure up physically and was quick to list things about her body that she didn’t like. This body-critcism could be attributed to a number of things - the unrealistic portrayal of the female body in magazine ads, female celebrities who appear flawless (thanks to personal hairstylists, makeup artists, and personal trainers), or comparing herself to other girls her age. But as we chatted another possible reason came to light. Jessica told me that her mom (let’s call her Angela) was currently on a diet and trying to lose weight - and was encouraging Jessica to join her. Now, just so we’re all on the same page, Angela (much like her daughter) is stunning and likely has no need to lose weight, medically-speaking. But nevertheless, Angela was convinced that she should lose weight, and her view of food was negatively affecting her daughter’s relationship with food and view of herself. I’m sure Angela never intended for this to happen, but it did - and it caused Jessica to look at her own body through a critical lense.

I share this story, because I think this is likely very common. Mom is concerned about her weight or appearance, Daughter notices this, and because Mom is someone she admires and looks up to, she begins to wonder if maybe she should be more concerned with how she looks or if she needs to lose weight as well. While I am all for parents being health-conscious and providing their kids with healthy, whole foods and modeling an active lifestyle, I am NOT for parents letting their own preoccupations with weight and image affect their impressionable children.

So what’s a parent to do? I think one of the biggest things is to not make body weight a regular topic of discussion (ie. don’t ask your daughter “Do these jeans make my butt look big?” when shopping together, or don’t say to your daughter “Are you sure you want to wear that dress? It kind of makes you look fat”, or ask your son or daughter “You’ve put on a few pounds, eh?”). Kids and teens already have to deal with enough insecurities and the last thing they need is to have this amplified by their parents.

Secondly, it’s important to put the focus on health, rather than weight loss. Teach your kids right from when they’re young why healthy foods and being active are important - and speak in a way that they understand (ie. tell your 5-year-old that healthy protein foods like beans and lentils, eggs, meat, and Greek yogurt will help him grow big and strong, or remind your 12 year old that eating a healthy breakfast will help her be able to focus better in class and do well in school).

And finally, if you are trying to lose weight (maybe your doctor has advised you to do so, or you just realize on your own that your weight is negatively affecting your health), please don’t decide to just go on a diet and broadcast this to your children. Instead, seek out some reliable counsel about healthy eating and healthy weight loss from a registered dietitian and begin making positive changes in what/how much you’re eating. And if your kids start asking why the frozen pizzas are being replaced with grilled chicken breasts, brown rice, and steamed veggies, you can just tell them that you’re trying to eat more healthy because you want to take care of your body so you can live a long, healthy life - and that you want them to learn how to eat well.

My hope is not that this post makes you feel condemned if your approach to food and eating has been negatively affecting your kids, but that this post encourages you to recognize that your relationship with food affects your kids. I believe that as a parent you want what’s best for your kids. So please take these words to heart and take an honest look at how your eating habits are affecting your kids and their belief systems about food, eating, and themselves. Set your kids up for success by instilling healthy eating and exercise habits in them, while affirming their worth and value - and teaching them that their value is not dictated by how they look or how much they weigh.

Kristy

Filed under food nutrition parents kids family healthyeating

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Eat Food

To say “eat food” might seem kind of silly. "Of course I’m going to eat FOOD!" But if you stop and think about it, a lot of what we eat in Canada today doesn’t really resemble actual whole foods. Cereals that are full of sugar and sodium; processed meats so full of sodium, preservatives, and fillers that they look like a far cry from something that actually came from a cow; desserts that can sit on a store shelf for months and months without going bad…. I could go on and on.

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Our typical way of eating has undergone a huge shift from the way our great, great-grandpa and grandma ate. And we now have the negative health consequences that go along with this new way of eating. Even though we’re more nutrition-conscious than ever, we’re becoming less and less healthy, with chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, and cancer on the rise.

So that’s why I’d like to propose a change in the way we think about what we choose to eat. In his book “In Defense of Food”, journalist and author Michael Pollan puts forth a very simple, but potentially revolutionary, idea: Eat food, mostly plants, not too much. (More info about Michael Pollan and “In Defense of Food” available at http://michaelpollan.com/books/in-defense-of-food/ ) It’s a great read and one that will challenge the way you think about food and eating, and that will hopefully change what and how you eat. Tonight, I’m going to focus on the first part of this idea: eat food.

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When I say “eat food”, what do I mean? Here it is:

  • Try to eat foods as close to their natural form as possible
  • Make meals from scratch as much as possible
  • Make buying and preparing healthy foods a priority
  • Don’t overthink it!

Try to eat foods as close to their natural form as possible

Here are a couple of good examples:  choose skinless chicken breasts or thighs and bake or grill them at home, instead of choosing chicken fingers;  buy a bag of steel-cut oats and cook up a couple of breakfasts worth and portion them out in the fridge for quick breakfasts instead of flavoured packaged instant oatmeal (cook steel-cut oats in milk for some added protein and flavour with a little brown sugar and lots of cinnamon - DELICIOUS!); stock up on whole grains (like quinoa, brown or wild rice, bulgur, etc) and season with fresh-ground pepper or your favourite herbs or spices, instead of going for the instant flavoured white rice. Following this guideline will help you make healthier - and, in my mind, more tasty - choices. Also, simple staples like whole grains, legumes (lentils, beans, and chickpeas), frozen veggies and fruits, and eggs are fairly cost-effective, which is a nice bonus!

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Make meals from scratch as much as possible

I can already hear some of you groaning, "But I don’t have time to do that!"  Yes, it can take a lot of time if you want it to, but it doesn’t always have to. Take making your own salad dressing for instance… Just whisk together equal parts of olive oil and your choice of vinegar (balsamic, red wine, white wine, and cider are all great!) and some dried oregano, and in literally TWO MINUTES you have a good-for-you, real-food, super tasty dressing! Or how about homemade pizzas for dinner instead of one from the freezer section of the grocery store or a take-out one. Just spread a little tomato sauce on a wholegrain pita, sprinkle some partly-skim cheese, load on the fresh veggies (I love spinach, tomatoes, red onion, and peppers on mine), add some of last night’s leftover chicken if you want, a little basil or oregano and then bake it in the oven for 10 minutes. Dinner’s ready in 20 minutes!

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Make buying and preparing healthy foods a priority

Does eating healthy take some extra time and energy? Yes. But I firmly believe that the benefits far outweigh the costs. Plan out a week’s worth of suppers and base your grocery list off of that so you can go to the grocery store knowing exactly what you need (and then you won’t have to ask yourself “What am I going to make for dinner??” on your way home from work!). And while you’re at the grocery store, try to spend more time around the perimeter of the store- that’s where you typically find the fresh fruits and veggies, fresh meats, eggs, dairy, and some whole grains. Those middle aisles do house some other healthy foods (such as beans and lentils, whole grains, olive oil, nuts and seeds, etc), but they’re also often home to chips, pop, sugary cereals and granola bars, and sodium-ladden sauces, condiments, and ‘instant’ foods. So just be mindful of that.

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Don’t overthink it!

Through working with clients, talking with friends and family, and my own experiences, I’ve found that we often tend to overthink things - especially when it comes to what we should be eating. So keep it simple: drink water, have vegetables or fruit as part of every meal, choose meat alternatives (like beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, nuts and seeds, Greek yogurt) more often than meat, choose whole grains instead of refined grains (ie. switch out white rice for quinoa at supper), and pay attention to when your body tells you that it’s full.

I hope that these simple thoughts have challenged you to rethink your view of what you call “food”. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, and time-consuming. It can be simple, cost-effective, quick and easy, AND delicious!

Happy eating!

Kristy

PS- I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and whether you’d like me to write more posts about food and nutrition! :)

Filed under food health nutrition indefenseoffood

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Woman vs Woman

I recently started reading “Fight Like a Girl” by Lisa Bevere, and it’s really got me thinking. Thinking about what it means to be female, why being female is a GOOD thing (we are not problems; we are SOLUTIONS!), and things that hinder women from working together for a greater good. I think it’s so cool that God designed men and women to compliment each other (not compete with one another). I see it played out every day in my own life: Stephen is strong in areas that I’m weak in and I’m strong in areas that he’s weak in. It’s so freeing to just embrace who I am and not feel like I need to compete with him.

But what about competing with other women? That’s what I want to talk about today. Through my own personal experience, getting godly wisdom from the bible, and reading some great books, I’ve learned that it’s not wise to compare ourselves with other women. Here are four reasons why:

1. Nothing good comes out of it.

Have you noticed that? I don’t know about you, but when I think back to times I’ve compared myself to other girls, I either came away feeling proud or feeling like I wasn’t good enough. And neither of those are good. Better to appreciate the great qualities in yourself AND the great qualities in other women, rather than comparing.

2. I can’t find my value in how I measure up to other women.

Through digging into the bible and surrounding myself with wise girls, I have learned that I’m already beautiful inside and out and I’ve found my identity in who God says I am. If we try to find our value in external things (like our looks, our achievements, or how we measure up to other girls), we’ll ultimately feel insecure, terrified of failing in that area, because we’ve tied that to our sense of worth. When we realize that our value comes from being God’s daughters (which will never change), we develop an unshakable confidence and peace.

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3. When I compare myself with another woman I limit my ability to build a friendship with her.

This thought just came to me the other day, and I think it’s pretty profound. If I compare myself to another girl, then every time I see her either pride or jealousy rises up. If it’s pride, I’ll look down on her and not want to be associated with her because in my mind I’m somehow “better” than her. If it’s jealousy, my mind will wonder and try to find some kind of flaw in her, in an attempt to make myself feel like I’m as beautiful/smart/popular/etc as she is. Also, I’ll end up feeling discontent with what I have and who I am. So if your mind is constantly pre-occupied with these types of thoughts, are you going to be able to start to build a friendship with her? Mostly likely not. It’s really a shame, because there may be the potential to build an amazing friendship with her, but your own thoughts and attitudes hinder that. Who are you missing out on building a friendship with because you compare yourself to her?

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4. When we compare ourselves with other women it limits how effective we are as a whole.

You know the saying “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”? We can accomplish far more by working together than by each trying to do our own thing while comparing ourselves with each other. Comparing builds walls between people; appreciating and celebrating the differences among women allows us to see other women as allies rather than as the competition. Just think — What could you and the girls around you accomplish if you truly worked together? How much more good could you create if you decided to no longer compare yourself to each other?

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There will always be someone who seems to be smarter, more popular, more beautiful, or have more money than you, or conversely, someone who seems less smart, less popular, less beautiful, or less well-off than you. And although it’s easier to sit there and compare yourself with her, that’s not what you were designed for! Remember that nothing good ever comes out of comparing yourself with her. If you let go of that pride or that jealousy, you may find a great friend in her. When you realize that your value comes from who God says you are, there’s no need to compare yourself with her. And by seeing her as an ally, you and her are capable of building great things! See her strengths and appreciate them. And see your strengths and appreciate them. We were created to stand side by side, working together to shape this world into a better place!

xoxo Kristy

Filed under women comparing self-worth