That's it, I've joined the "other side". I feel like such.a traitor. Me, who drank tea her whole life. Who found pleasure in different type of beautiful dried green plants steeped in hot water and enjoyed just the sound of a kettle with some steaming goodness. Now I turn to the sweet smell of a good Turkish coffee and it gives me all the feels. I went from only being able to drink a latte, decaf, with lots of chocolate and caramel drizzle to a no milk/no sugar cup of coffee. I don't have a set schedule; it's still not something I do on a daily basis - and I don't want it to get to that. I'm still on one kid so I think that's possible (yikes, I'm sure I'll be in desperate need when I get to two crazies). I enjoy every bitter sip of a good, dark, coffee. How did this happen, you ask?
It all happened one dark winter day...
Me and my mom had both undergone surgeries and were supposed to take care of each other (always gives me a really good laugh), and the snow was just never ending (AND IT'S COMING BACK). Those cups of coffee with my aunt (who lived 5 km away by the way) over some fresh gossip (only the good kind, of course!) always brought us so much comfort. And now, I'll never turn back! You know, coffee has some health benefits too! Ofcourse! That's why I love it (blink blink).
Ramadan is a month to focus on spiritual affair and re-assess our goals in life. It's a month of serenity, contemplation, and generosity. It can also be the perfect month to begin implementing a healthy lifestyle. How? With 17-18 hour fasts and so little time to eat, you really need to focus on what's important: Macro and micronutrients. Things that get you through the next day. Things like whole grain brown rice, fruits, vegetables, eggs, etc.
Ofcourse, everything in moderation - and so long as you're following the 80/20 rule, not a problem! But really, if you eat too much salt, you will feel it the next day. That headache - may be from the lack of hydration from yesterday's Iftar. And with 30 days to try such an intense healthy diet out, make it a keeper!
Healthy eating will not only help you survive the month with more energy and willpower, but it may just give you the fuel you need to focus on your self-transformation on a spiritual level. Ramadan is a month to challenge ourselves and change for the better, after all. Why not start with healthy eating?
P.S. Check out this talk I had at the All in a Day program on CBC about Ramadan.
For 2019, aim for SMART goals!
(SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)
The end of the year is the greatest time, in my opinion, to re-evaluate our personal short and long-term goals and start planning for the year to come. Most people plan for their New Year's resolutions and I am sure others can relate when I say it's disappointing to find many of my resolutions from last year have not been accomplished.
Is it my lack of effort? Am I not investing enough time into my goals? Am I lacking something - is there something wrong with me? Nope. I mean, it's very possible that I need to put more effort and time to attain my goals. And some things are just not for me. But one thing is for sure, when year after year, I am not where I said I would be, it's clear that the goals I am setting are just not the right fit.
Wording is extremely important when it comes to goal setting. If going to the gym has been at the top of your list for a while and it's not happening, try to investigate some more. Maybe you're a social person that likes group classes? Maybe you prefer doing some yoga at home? Maybe your tight schedule can't afford a 30 minute daily work-out but a 10 minute daily intensive workout can pass? What works for YOU? What will fit right with your interests, goals, and your lifestyle?
Sure, we have to put in effort (and lots of it) but changes happen gradually. Often times, we get stuck in this circle of "I need to go to the gym" and the other obstacles that come to mind "where will I leave my baby to go to the gym?" and don't think any further. Dig deeper: can you find a gym that has childcare? Do you have a partner or family member that can care while you exercise? Is there some sort of exercise you can do with your baby? Theses investigations will push you to look for things fit with ease!
As Dietitians, every year, we have to set goals we want to attain as health professionals and submit them to our College. I have noticed, year after year, that my goals are pretty similar. I am working hard to attain them, but I am not yet satisfied. For that, I have learned to make my goals much more specific, and to carefully choose what works for me, in my life situation right now. They have now become much more attainable! So remember, next time you set goals, if they're not working - you haven't failed them, they've probably failed you!
Not sure about everyone else, but I've had a really rough Fall. Not that it wasn't good, and opportunity-filled, but it's been non-stop one thing after the other. Don't get me wrong, everything from pumpkin soup to webinars (and everything else in between) has all been exciting, but whoa! That felt like an intense roller-coaster ride. And boy - did I lack time to think. Between my daughter's 18 month sleep regression (what happened to nap and bedtime!?) and not saving anymore daylight time (why oh why do we do this.) - it all felt like a struggle for survival!
Anyway, we're all good and prepared for winter with a new furnace (because our old one broke down in the middle of cold weather), some frozen pre-baked pumpkin and squash and pre-made frozen soups. Bring on the storms (or not- please). Did I forget to mention my Saturday job? I'm back as a homecare RD and feeling better than ever! Except for the part where I feel like I'm running out of time - all the time. Add a part time private clinic to the mix, some continuing education, and serious time thinking about all my future life plans.
To pursue a Master's degree or to not pursue a Master's degree. That is the question!
We ended Ramadan with a wonderful feast, I can't seem to remember what we ate.but I know it.was good. Enter July - month of extreme heat (I didn't know I would hibernate in the summer too), and off-track eating - well, for me anyways.
Usually, I don't have much of an appetite in the summer. I eat my three meals - but I don't care for snacks (unless its nice and cold). This year though, I feel like from beginning of summer to end, all I could think of was 'sugar, chocolate - repeat'. Maybe because it was a stressful month, but seriously - anyone have a brownie? To make things worse, when I wasn't craving sweets, I was craving fats. That's right, deep fried everything. Maybe even chocolate. I know what you're thinking : "what a crazy, horrible, no self-control Dietitian!". I mean I'm supposed to eat healthy 24/7 and practice what I preach.
It's true, I do try my best to practice what I preach. But I struggle, and sometimes it's hard for me to make the right decisions. And that's okay too! Especially when, a week before my brother's wedding, my dress still needed altering - and I still needed to find shoes for the occasion. I can tell you, out of all life events, formal events stress me out the most. And they always affect my eating habits. But here's where you have to have an emergency plan ready to tackle even the most on-the-go days.
After a bit of losing myself, I did thankfully go back on track. But I had to make an effort, it didn't happen magically. I had to (and still have to) find joyful healthy recipes that encourage me to cook & savour the taste of healthy foods. If I don't feel like having romaine lettuce, that's okay. There are plenty other vegetables to choose from. On a side note- I have an amazing salad recipe I've been addicted to all week (recipe below).
All this to say: it (life) happens. We all go off track. Often times we despair, and continue losing track until we've gone far. What's important is that we remember our long term and short term health goals and we aim for them again. It's okay to fall, but don't stay on the ground - get back up!
Spring mix (a bowl full)
Tomatoes (to your liking)
bocconcini (to your liking)
Dressing (depending on how much you want to add to your salad) :
3 part balsamic vinegar
1 part oil
Salt (to taste)
It may be acidic to your taste. Alter it as you like! Mix all together, enjoy!
Brace yourselves! Here comes Ramadan on some of the longest days of the year. Yikes!
The holy month of Ramadan is a month of contemplation, spirituality and giving for Muslims. It's the ultimate time of the year to re-think all of our actions, goals in life, and to focus on bettering ourselves and our morals. Fasting is compulsory on all capable (healthy, of age) individuals from dawn to sunset to shift our focus from food to spiritual matters.
Nonetheless, it's important to have a clear plan for this Ramadan to ensure that we stay healthy and nourished and capable of fasting! With long days and summer heat come obvious obstacles to preventing dehydration and ensuring proper nutrient intake. Here are a few tips I will try out this Ramadan, that I thought I'd share:
- Avoid processed foods as much as you can. You really have to make sure every calorie you take in is nutrient dense. Empty calories (such as chips, processed juices, etc.) will not only make you feel more thirsty, but will surely be replacing other healthy foods that you really need to keep yourself going throughout this holy month. Think about this : when you're going for that bowl of chips, you may become too full for the bowl of fruit salad you wanted to have. Not only will the fruit salad provide fibre , but also water content and important vitamins and minerals.
- This goes against what I always do and recommend, but I think it will be helpful to go for more refined grains at "Iftar" (meal to break your fast). Ofcourse, keep in mind the healthy portions here, but the logic behind this is it'll be easier to digest. You need something easy to digest at your first meal, so that you can fit in a little more food before going to bed, without feeling overly stuffed. This will help ensure you consume what your body needs.
- Think smoothies and creamed soups during meals to hydrate. Smoothies with your Iftar instead of processed juices will be extremely helpful. Throw in some frozen mangos and berries with a banana and some water in the mixer, and drink a cup during your Iftar and throughout the night. This will help you fit some more fruits and fiber (and most importantly, water) throughout your day. Homemade low-salt soups with plenty of hidden vegetables, and perhaps some lentils are also an excellent way to re-hydrate.
- For suhoor, you want something that will stay in your body longer. Hence, go for whole grains, healthy fats and proteins. Here are a few examples: a milkshake made with avocado, cocoa powder, banana, peanut butter and milk (you can replace cow milk by other animal or non/animal milk), ricotta cheese on a whole-grain bagel with banana topping and a handful of almonds, homemade banana bread with peanut butter and a glass of milk, egg sandwich on a whole grain toast with a fruit smoothie.
- Water. We humans are like walking and talking cucumbers, we're mostly made of water! You're aiming for a lot in little time. You need almost 2 L of fluids in a span of about 6-7 hours. Don't worry though, soups, juices, and tea do count for fluid intake. If you choose salty foods, have them earlier on so that you can drink water to replenish your thirst. Remember that water is the best thirst-quencher.
- Have a small healthy snack before bed : like some strawberries with ricotta cheese and a handful of almonds, or some puffed wheat cereal with milk and walnuts. Just in case you miss suhoor!
- Eat your vegetables! Have a salad at Iftar, (like fattoush - delicious Lebanese salad) and include vegetables in your cooking. If you're having spaghetti, add some zucchini and carrots to your sauce. Add some spinach and other vegetables to your pizza, or grill some vegetables to go along with your meat portion. For some more international food recommendations, visit here.
If you have any other suggestions for staying healthy this Ramadan, I would love to hear from you!
May you and your families stay healthy and blessed. Ramadan Mubarak!
Feeding a baby can be really challenging, and I can foresee in the very short months ahead how challenging feeding a toddler will become. This is why it's important to create positive experiences with food to allow babies and children to associate food with good thoughts.
As a new parent, but a not-so-new aunt, I remember with my nephew and niece, how much fun they would have preparing foods. From pressing the "on" button to mix up a smoothie, to simply mixing dry ingredients for a cake - kids really, and I mean, really enjoy it.
As a result of all that time spent building memories around food, my nephew and niece run to the table for mealtimes. As for me, my daughter doesn't walk just yet - but she makes a blowing sound when she's hungry and wants to eat - which tells me there's something to mealtime she looks forward to.
At home, we practice a mix of spoon feeding (on occasions) and baby-led weaning. Cleaning up is not so fun - but letting my baby dig in (literally), has helped her associate mealtimes with something fun and full of new discoveries. That moment at her one year-old birthday where she was reaching for strawberries to stuff them in her mouth as fast as possible, was priceless! And it's proof that something we're doing -so far- is working out.
That being said, let the food discoveries begin!
This year's nutrition month focused on the numerous benefits of food. Food is powerful. It has the potential to fuel, let discover, prevent, heal and bring us together.
Over the next few months, I will be focusing on the different potentials of food and discuss them in more detail.
Who else looks to food for energy? I know that I did. And breastfeeding made me constantly look to food for energy and to satisfy my hunger.
As a new mother, you will probably find yourself emotional, exhausted, in pain, and stressed out - all at the same time. Your hands are probably tied between keeping a little human alive and attempting to feed yourself (and sometimes the rest of the family!). Oh and you're probably trying to get through that endless to-do list... Okay, let's not talk about that.
Try to get the most help you can during this difficult stage of life. If someone asks how they can help, dont be shy to ask for home-cooked, ready-made meals or snacks! Good food is so important for you right now. It will help you re-energize and heal.
If you don't have many people you can depend on, eating healthy is still possible. Make a grocery list of the things your significant other can purchase.
Things that go in the oven are so much easier : Tilapia filet with frozen veggies and sweet potato (washed, as it is) - just put them in a pan into the oven sprinkled with oregano, salt and a little bit of olive oil. And how about a banana, milk and peanut butter smoothie for breakfast. For lunch, a fried egg on toast with dijon and a cup of milk. Whatever you make for dinner, make extra so that lunch is ready for you tomorrow. Keep dates and walnuts by your bedside for a nighttime snack before bed. And don't forget to hydrate -especially if you're breastfeeding.
Sarah Hamdan Registered Dietitian.