Are you one who seems to get attracted by these “new” diet fads that promise you the moon? Have you tried all the diets under the sun and still feel the need to lose some weight? Are you the expert yo-yo dieter that knows exactly how many grams of carbs are in a carrot vs a cookie? Is your relationship with food so disordered that you don’t even know where to start with eating healthy? Let me tell you something…you are definitely not alone. The majority (or even most) of my clients have lived one or more of these scenarios. It’s easy to buy into the promises that we see on magazine covers, television or social media. Magic pills, fat burning shakes, detox juices and all those “miraculous” new diets have been shoved in our faces (no pun intended) since we were old enough to hold our forks. No wonder our brains are triggered with images of what is “supposed” to be healthy or what society deems healthy. These are all ploys to get you to buy into a product that just won’t work.
Diets don’t work…there, I said it. You might know this already but then why are people still asking me about Keto or low carb or weight watchers? The thing with diets is that they cater to our need to follow a pre-determined plan where all the guess work is taken out of the equation. We blindly follow what this person or doctor or celebrity has done for themselves and we think that without a doubt it should work for us as well. Why do we listen to what the internet is telling us we “should” do when the best place to start is to listen to our own bodies? Who better to know what it needs than YOU?
“But my friend has been on Keto for 5 months and lost 30 lbs”…OK that’s great for your friend but what about your needs? Stop looking at what other people are doing and start paying more attention to yourself and what is best for you. All diets will work for a certain time because it is different than what you were doing before. This is simply your body adjusting to something new. It reacts to the new stimulus and adjusts. The issue is that with most diets, there are so many restrictions that we fall into a whirlwind of rules, guilt, shame and consequences. We also put too much emphasis on dieting for weight loss instead of simply eating for health. If we eat for health then it becomes part of our lifestyle and we feel energized, fueled, content, comforted, fulfilled and free! I like that much better!
There are simple steps you can follow to start ditching the diets.
Eat quality whole foods: this is as simple as it gets. The closer to nature it is, the better. Replace the fried zucchini with zucchini baked with some salt and spices. Replace the breaded chicken fingers with homemade breaded chicken made with almond flour and spices. Replace the chocolate bar with good quality dark chocolate. Replace the fast food burger with a homemade grass fed burger with all the fixings (avocado, cheese slice, bacon). Strive for quality over quantity.
Eat with awareness: Be conscious and present when you are eating. Avoid eating when stressed, while working or watching television or driving. Really take in all the senses involved, the smell, the texture, the taste the look of your food. Eat with purpose. This is important to trigger your brain to let it know that you are eating and enjoying the process. This is called the parasympathetic nervous system, also called “rest and digest”. Your body can digest and assimilate nutrients much more efficiently when your body is in this state. It will also prevent you from being hungry 1 hour later.
Eat for nourishment: Get everything out of your food. Forget the calories and look at the ingredients and what your food provides you. Focus more on the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that your body needs to thrive.
Eat for pleasure: This is in fact a physiological requirement for humans. Eat like the French! Eat with loved ones or with friends. Engage in conversations. Appreciate where your food came from. Really taste and enjoy the food.
We also need to stop labeling food as “good” or “bad” because when we do that, we label ourselves as “good” or “bad” for eating those foods. Let go of the label and you will let go of the guilt.
Start with those simple steps and you might realize that ditching diets is much easier than it seems. If you wish to learn a little more about this subject please contact me for a private meeting and we can discuss your individualized wellness program that is suitable for you. Visit my Metabolic Balance page for your personalized wellness plan that incorporates real food and encourages you to start eating more intuitively.
Coffee…what a wonderful beverage.
Let’s go for coffee. Want to meet for coffee? I need my coffee! I can’t live without coffee! Coffee break!
Coffee is one of those things that is a huge part of our lives. It’s often the first thing that comes to mind when we wake up in the morning. It’s what most of us look forward to every morning before anything else. It’s comforting, it’s warming, and the sweet mesmerizing smell can cause even the non-coffee drinkers to wish they liked coffee. It is a staple of most people’s lives. It’s also been around for many centuries (as early as the 13th century). In fact the origin of coffee is a little unclear but it is said to originate from the ancient Ethiopian countries (called Oromo people). After that, it spread to Egypt and Yemen. Coffee was used as stimulants and energy boosters. Coffee is consumed all over the world today.
According to the Coffee Association of Canada, coffee and tap water are the most commonly consumed beverages. Coffee actually topped the charts with 71% and tap water at 67% in a 2017 study.
Coffee can be very beneficial but the source of the coffee has a lot to do with this. The most popular species of coffee are: Arabica and Robusta but there are over 100 different species. The way the beans are grown, harvested and fermented before the roasting process can influence the quality. The cherries are hand-picked from a tree then the pulp is removed and then they need to dry for 10-14 days. They then must be hulled and sorted by hand to remove any beans that are not the right size. Coffee can be contaminated with Mycotoxins which come from molds that are found almost everywhere in small quantities and are considered toxic chemicals. Roasting the coffee beans does eliminate a lot of the toxins. Obviously buying organic coffee is your best bet to ensure it is pesticide and herbicide free. Fair trade is always important as well for environmental sustainability and for ethical reasons. Fair trade ensures that the profits are directed back into the farmers and the communities. Local rosters usually offer good quality coffees and you should go around your city looking for those unique little coffee shop. Happy goat coffee, Owls head, Quitters, Alice’s village café, Equator coffee, the ministry of coffee and social affairs are all great spots! This is my favorite thing to do. I haven’t visited all of these but that’s my plan. Quitters in Stittsville is one of my favs!
To keep coffee fresh, buy the whole beans in smaller batches. Coffee does go bad and should be treated the same way as fresh veggies and not like a can of tuna in your cupboard. Grind them as you need and keep in an air tight container in your pantry away from light and moisture. Previously ground beans have a larger surface area that is susceptible to moisture.
There are many benefits to drinking coffee. Coffee is a great source of antioxidants and polyphenols (naturally occurring phytochemicals in plant that have disease fighting abilities). Other benefits include lowered risk of some degenerative disease, increase insulin sensitivity and increase in athletic performance.
Fat in my coffee:
There are so many different ways to enjoy coffee that are way more beneficial than adding milk and sugar and in my opinion way tastier. Adding good fats for example is a great way to enjoy your brew. MCT, coconut oil, or butter and blending it with your freshly pressed coffee is like magic! Even blending cashew butter, almond or peanut butter or even tahini in your coffee gives it that extra kick. You can also try cacao butter, collagen, organic cream which is less allergenic than milk, or any nut milks as long as they don’t contain added sugars and additives. Why add fat to your coffee? Well for one it helps you stay fuller longer and MCT oil especially has brain boosting benefits that will keep you alert and help speed up your metabolism for the day. Start slow with MCT oil as it does cause lose stools.
How much is too much?
So how many cups a day can I drink? Well again you need to listen to your body especially if caffeine affects you but as a general rule: 1 cup a day is perfect, 2 cups is ok and 3 is your max.
There is a darker side to coffee, no pun intended. The structure of caffeine looks a lot like a molecule that is naturally present in our brain called adenosine. It is so close that it will fit into our brain receptors for adenosine blocking its effects. Adenosine usually locks into these receptors and produces a feeling of tiredness. When caffeine takes the spot, this reaction does not occur so we get a sense of alertness and energy. All the excess adenosine will float around and it will cue the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline and other stimulants. So in fact caffeine is not a real stimulate but a stimulant enabler. Over time we grow more adenosine receptors which creates a tolerance.
Other dark sides…It is true that for some people coffee can cause jitters, stomach acidity and other issues. There is a genetic factor that comes into play as to how well you metabolize coffee. This is why some people get jittery after one cup and others can drink 5 cups or double espressos and go to sleep right after. Coffee is just like any other food. Some people are ok with it and others aren’t. Most people know if they can handle coffee. Essentially, if you have sleep issues, adrenal fatigue, are restless and have heart palpitations, you should definitely not drink coffee. It can also interfere with some drug metabolism and interfere with liver detoxification. If you need coffee every day to feel normal, motivated or to function… you are addicted. If you have withdrawals symptoms like headaches when you haven’t had your cup, you are addicted. Try removing coffee for 3 weeks then reintroduce it slowly and monitor how you feel. Here is a coffee reduction program that you can try if you feel you are at that point.
Coffee reduction program:
The thing with coffee is that it is so versatile. It’s being served in so many different ways, it’s also being disguised in different ways. The mocha, frappa, latte you get from places like popular coffee shops is not really coffee. The amount of syrups or sugar they add to these drinks is scary. Please consider that a tall Caramel Frappuccino contains 46g of sugar which is equivalent to 11.5 teaspoons of sugar! For one drink! That is already more than the recommended amount for an entire day. (Heart and stroke recommends no more than 12 tsp / day) although I believe that is still too much. At this point, in my opinion you are not drinking coffee you are drinking a syrupy drink with a little splash of coffee. To each their own and once in a while it’s fine to indulge in one of these but everyday could be a problem.
Coffee brings people together, it gives us an excuse to wake up in the morning, to walk away from our desks at work, to meet up with friends on weekends and it’s an acquired taste that as a kid I never thought I would develop. Coffee definitely grows on you and makes people happy. It makes happy!
If you are looking to boost your coffee game and want some ideas, reach out to me and I will send you recipes.
What is this protocol? It is not a diet, or a meal plan. It’s a tool to help you connect with your food to improve digestion, improve nutrient absorption and assimilation and improve overall nourishment to your body. You could be eating the most healthful foods on the planet but if you are not eating under a state of relaxation, pleasure and awareness you will not metabolize, fully assimilate the nutrients from what you are consuming.
Why should I do this? Most people suffer from digestive upset; bloating, gas, heartburn which in turn leads to headaches, allergies, gut dysbiosis and more serious disease. Digestion is key to receive the appropriate raw material that we get from food needed to fuel, repair and protect our body. Digestive disorders could be the principle causes underlying many unexplained symptoms of disease. It all starts with digestion and if something goes wrong here, it influences and affects all other body systems.
What do I get from this? Improve your health with mindfulness, awareness, breathing, relaxation, craving control. The goal here is not necessarily to change your food, the goal is for you to learn your relationship with foods, why you eat certain foods and what type of eater you are. The goal is to bring more awareness to the act of eating and how your body reacts to your food choices.
I will not tell you what to eat or what not to eat. I will give you the tools you need to listen to your body and let it tell you what it needs and what it would prefer not to have. Do you want more energy, feel better physically and mentally? Do you want to be able to control your appetite and know what to eat? Do you want to put an end to cravings and improve your relationship with food? Do you want to enjoy food again? I believe that with these simple steps, you will be able to achieve that.
What you will need for this protocol:
-small journal to write down how you feel after your meals and to keep track of progress
Here is what you will do for the next 7-10 days.
As for carving control. There is no fancy method to go about this. Cravings needs to be “lived” through. What does that mean? You need to simply breath through your cravings when you feel the start of one. Sit somewhere, breath deeply and think of something else. You must experience it fully and really be aware of all the emotions that come with it. After a time (differs for everybody), the craving will go away. You might cave in on occasion but if you do, deal with it and move on. It’s that simple.
Look at this as a work in progress, it’s a journey to feeling better, eating better and living better. It is a guide to enjoying food again and connecting with food again.
You will learn to LISTEN to your body and what it is trying to tell you and what it really needs.
Learn the signs, signals, feelings that you are experiencing.
Inquire about why you are feeling that way.
Sort out those feelings finding the root cause.
Test things out. Test out new foods to see how your body reacts.
Embrace that this is a process that takes patience and practice but know that it gives great benefits.
Naturally you will come to learn to hear what your body wants and needs, and you will successfully nourish it by being present, aware, stress free and open.
Food is not just nutrients or macros, it’s information and it’s a way of life, it brings us together and connects us, it can be transforming, healing and personalized. We have become disconnected with our food. We need to get back in the kitchen, make real food and experience it from beginning to end. We need to consider how the food was grown, prepared, how it smells and tastes and maybe then we will never have to hear about dieting.
As a nutritionist I want to help clients achieve their own personnel well being and I have learned, that I am a guide in your journey. I can only do so much and the rest is up to you to take on. My job is to encourage you to start and stay on the right path and really become in tune with what your body really wants and needs. If you need more guidance in your health journey please contact me. I would also love to hear feedback from you if you try this protocol. Thank you.
Every year many of us go through the same ritual. We set a goal and a couple months later, that goal is already out the window. It is said that only about 8% of people attain their new year’s goal. Maybe our goals are too complicated or unrealistic. Here are 10 ways you can improve your lifestyle and overall wellness this year. I will leave it up to you if you want to choose 1 or more from this list to accomplish this year. With smaller more attainable goals you will likely be more successful. Let’s pave the road to a healthy 2019 year!
These are just a few ideas that you can integrate into your lifestyle in the New Year. Remember to have smaller more achievable goals throughout the year to keep yourself on track. Health and wellness are within your reach. Have a great start to your year!
This is a question I get often. "What is the best food to eat for breakfast?". I understand that it can get super confusing with all the contradicting information out there. The thing is breakfast, as much as I love it, is a little overrated. Yep, that's right! I don't see breakfast as "the most important meal of the day". I see breakfast as any other meal. I also don't see why breakfast should be forced on you if you are not hungry. I try to tell people to follow their hunger cues and eat when they are hungry, and many people just aren't hungry when they wake up. Then don't eat! That's my honest and simple response. It is beneficial to give your body a break from eating occasionally and a fast from dinner to breakfast is kind of a light fast. If you can hold off even longer without food, that's okay too. I won't get into the fasting subject as that is a different post altogether but what I’m saying is eat if you are hungry. If you do decide to eat breakfast, then I do suggest that it be a meal with mostly protein and fat. The reason for this is that if you start your day with with sugary cereal and high processed carb foods makes blood sugar levels go up, insulin is then produced to carry that sugar in your cells for energy and then you find yourself with low blood sugar again and thee viscous cycle starts again. The long-term effects of this is insulin resistance which is when your cells stop reacting to the insulin, so your blood sugar always stays high and that can cause many metabolic issues like diabetes and heart disease. This will also leave you hungry, tired and raging with cravings all day. On the other hand, starting your day with more protein and fat will keep your blood sugar in check, give your more energy, help you burn more fat and likely help with cravings throughout the day. I want to explain as well that there are no "breakfast foods". Food is food, it should not be labelled as such because it adds even more pressure and confusion. Here are some easy recipes that you can try fr breakfast or any time of the day.
Can be found under "recipes"
Eggs with vegetables cooked in coconut oil
Avocado spread with egg
Turkey patties with avo spread
Grain free porridge
This is a subject that I’ve been debating writing about but I’ve decided to do it since I feel it’s important to me in order to do my job the best way I can. I am just starting in this nutrition business and I have to admit that it hasn’t been easy. I’m just going to come out and say it…if you are looking for quick and easy fixes then I’m not the person for you. There! Plain and simple, black on white, there it is. I know that a lot of people think they understand this and still think they are ready to make some changes but as soon as I tell them my recommendations, they decide It’s too difficult and some don’t even try! They run the other way. I’m not an evil being trying to deprive you of all your “little pleasures”. If I tell you that what you are eating is causing your complaints and issues (this could range from weight gain to blood sugar imbalances to acne and bloating) then maybe it’s time you stop eating those foods and try something new. If a doctor said you were allergic to peanuts, would you eat them? If a doctor gives you a pill to “fix” your stomach issues or headache, do you take it? Yes, you do, why? Did you know that most doctors don’t have nutrition courses in medical school? Am I saying you shouldn’t listen to your doctor? Of course not. I am saying that if you seek help from a nutritionist then why aren’t you doing what he/she recommends? In order to make changes in life, whatever it might be, it takes sacrifice and dedication. You don’t get something for nothing. There are no magic pills or miracle solutions for nutrition. You need to understand that you will have to make some changes, sometimes big, sometimes small, in order to better your health and well being. Please if you are thinking of hiring me to help you with your dietary lifestyle, come ready and come with an open mind. You must be prepared to not like what I have to tell you and you must be prepared to do it anyways and reap the benefits. It is a process that can take over a year for some people depending on their health issues. I am not writing this to discourage you from seeking nutritional counseling, I am simply preparing you to face the fact that things that are worth doing are most times difficult to do, or else everybody would be doing it.
Vitamin K Nutrition
Improving your health one nutrient at a time
As soon as I told people I was taking a nutrition course, everybody seemed to have so many questions for me. It's still part of my daily life to get asked at least a couple questions a day about food or diet or anything that has to do with nutrition. I quickly learned that it's best if I let people come to me with questions than me just blurting out "oh don't eat that" or "hmmm, that's full of sugar, don't drink that". I wasn't trying to be a "know-it-all" but at times I felt I wasn't minding my own business so I stopped doing that. Now I know that if people have questions, they will ask when they are ready but they often don't want to hear the answer I have for them or are not ready to hear it. I will be very clear on this...Nutrition is not a one size fits all, there is no mold that everybody fits in and that everybody should follow to the tee. Nutrition is very individualized and personal and has to be tailored to your bodies' needs, demands and lifestyle. When someone asks me "should I avoid grains?" or "why do you think I feel tired all the time?" or "should I stop eating dairy?" I can't give you a direct answer as I have not sat with you and gone through your health profile. In order for me to make an educated decision to determine what is best for you as an individual, I need to know all the facts. Some people can handle grains, others can't, some people can eat dairy, others can't. It's as simple as that yet very complex and detailed when it comes to YOUR individual needs. As a general rule I do tell everybody to cut out convenience food, fast food, sodas, processed foods and sugar. This is beneficial for everybody in the long run, no exceptions. As for everything else, well, it depends. As much as I want to answer everybody's questions all the time, I must have all the facts.
Being a nutritionist also doesn't mean I know everything there is to know about food. I too am constantly learning and nutrition is an ever changing thing. We discover new things everyday with science and that's what so great about it. With my science background it's ingrained in me to always want to know more and the reasons behind everything. Right now i'm learning a lot about high fat low carb diets and how it can benefit many people with various health issues. I am trying it out on myself to see how I feel on this particular way of eating. I have enjoyed how it makes me feel and in order to recommend it to my future clients I am trying to get as much information and real life experience to be able to guide them if they want to try it out. Now will I push this diet on everybody? No. I feel that everybody should lean towards what they feel is right for them. Is something isn't working for you then try something else. If you feel like crap on a specific diet or way of eating but you read somewhere that that's what you should do, well maybe you should rethink it. I think our bodies have a way of telling us what it needs and it wants to be healthy and balanced. We all need to learn to listen to our bodies more, myself included.
Take home message is: Keep asking questions but be prepared for the answers. Do what works for you and if it's not working then do something about it. Listen to your body, it wants you to thrive!
Karine Vaillancourt R.H.N.
Vitamin K Nutrition
Improving your health one nutrent at a time
In June of 2015 I went into this new journey with excitement and fear. I had noticed that this fitness competition thing was becoming quite the new popular thing to do and that mostly anybody could do it. All the stories I read were success stories on how amazing this experience was and how it changed peoples’ lives forever. For me all I wanted to do was get on stage. That was my initial goal. I have to admit though that I also wanted abs. Yep, I said it. I wanted to look smoking hot and have that body that most women dream about. Then as I researched it a bit more I became interested in the nutrition aspect of it and how it affects your body. I decided this would be my year to challenge myself to do something so out of my comfort zone that I had butterflies just thinking about it. I found THE BEST coach around and sat down with her to discuss my goals and see if I would be a good fit for this competition. Not everybody is able to do these competitions. You have to be doing it for the right reasons. I for one wanted to improve my self-confidence and prove to myself that I could do something that seemed almost impossible to me at that moment. I soon learned that most women that enter these competitions have some issue they want to resolve, some kind of insecurity or trying to regain control of their lives somehow by taking control of their body. I am a very dedicated person when I want to do something and I couldn’t get it out of my head so I was determined to go through with it to the end. My goal was to get on that stage. It wasn’t to come first, second or 10th…no it was just to step on that stage and show my family, friends and myself that I had done it.
After speaking with my coach I now had a better idea of what I was getting myself into. I thought at first that I would be deprived of a lot of foods and be starving all the time. Well, let me tell you that was not the case at all. I had to eat so much friggin food I had a hard time finishing my meals for the first two weeks! I ate a copious amount of veggies, rice, potatoes, chicken, turkey and fish. That was the extent of my diet for the first couple weeks just to gauge my base line. I was shocked but I was happy to have all that food. The next couple months my diet changed with my body slowly but surely. I couldn’t really notice the changes to my body but my partner and my coach would tell me that I was definitely changing. It was depressing for me because I was working so hard and eating so clean all the time but not really seeing the difference in my body.
The “before and after” pics as well as progress pics came and went but I was still self conscious of my body and worried that I wouldn't be ready for the competition.
During the whole process I was very focused, determined and dedicated. I hardly cheated on my diet (maybe a few times with crackers or a piece of dark chocolate). I did have cheat meals which was a life saver and I always looked forward and planned them carefully. I was tested many times and it was very difficult. It can be a very lonely time especially when it comes to food. You feel as though people are judging you, you feel like you are missing out at times. It's also hard when your 8 year old wants burger and fries and you have to watch him eat it while you have rice and fish. It was challenging to say the least but I did it. People constantly asking you what you are eating, why you are eating that, thinking you should eat more not knowing that was my 4th meal of the day while they only had breakfast. It was a constant obsession with food. Let's not forget the constant looking in the mirror, measuring, weighing and pictures. I was becoming obsessed with myself that is not in my nature. I only really noticed changes in the week before my competition and the day before, when I had my tan done, then I could really see my hard work. I was also deprived, dehydrated and tanned to the extreme. The next day I stepped on stage. I had accomplished what I had set to do and I loved it. It was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life and I felt I was on top of the world until it all came crashing down the week after the competition. That's what they don't tell you when you start this process. These are the hidden demons of competition life. The fact that you can't look stage-ready forever as it's not healthy or realistic.
Now I am aware of all this but even now, 4 months after my competition I still struggle with my body image and insecurities.
I would say that I've been more obsessed with my body in the last 4 months than before my comp or even ever for that matter. I was warned about the post comp depression and it is a real thing. I didn't realize however that it would last so long. I thought I’d get over it after a couple weeks of going back to the gym and eating "normally" but no, it has not. Every day I compare myself to others I see on some kind of social media. I say to myself..."why does she have abs all year round, why can't I? Why can't I look cut like her all the time? Why does my butt look like this and not like that? Why can't I have her arms, her shoulders, her.....etc etc etc. Now I do realize that I am not out of shape, obese or flabby. I have always been active and in shape. Then why am I thinking these thoughts on a regular basis? Why am I so consumed with how I should look? I've always been one to compare myself to others but it was never this bad. I feel like this comp made me see a side of me that was beyond the reach of most people and I lived it and now I’m back down to earth and I have to accept that I can't and shouldn't look like that all the time. I am relentlessly working on trying to avoid social media (easier said than done) and talking to myself. I am still very active at the gym, going 4 times a week and eating clean 95% of the time. I am never happy with my results and I’m impatient, wanting to see more results faster. My goal is to gain muscle and that is not an easy task. For me it would probably take at least 1 year to grow 5-10lbs of muscle to be able to compete in nationals naturally.
Now I could continue this journey and always follow that same path but I think I’ve come to realize that it's not necessarily what I want. I want to be fit and healthy, yes, but I don't think I want to go through the ups and downs of competition just because of the aftermath and what's it’s done to me. Maybe one day I’ll learn to accept my body the way it is and be ok with not having abs 365 days a year but for now, I’m still dealing with the post comp blues and it's going to take a while for me to get out of it. I'm not saying NO to more competition but I’m saying NO for right now, at least until I get back to being me and being ok with it.
Vitamin K Nutrition