Q & A – Ask your Holistic Nutritionist
I have asked you, as well as collected the most asked questions from my clients. Take a look at a holistic nutritionist’s answers to all your food and health questions!
Q. I have been finding I’m so hungry when I get home from work and then it’s very difficult not to binge eat or get take out rather than making a healthy dinner! What would you suggest?
A. Firstly, I recommend that you never let yourself get to the point where you are starving. When we are in that state we often reach for the fastest most convenient food, which is not usually the healthiest. I suggest having a mid-afternoon snack of protein rich foods like raw nuts and seeds, hummus and bell peppers or roasted chickpeas. These will fuel you through your afternoon allowing you put more effort into cooking a meal than caving into hunger and ordering in. I also recommend having 2-3 go to meals that are healthy and easy to cook, then always having those ingredients on hand. My favourite go to meals that I can whip up with ingredients always in my fridge are a stir fry with brown rice and my chickpea quinoa salad from Ivanco’s Eat Smart Challenge.
Q.With all these awful colds going around this year, do you have any ideas for easy immune boosters/supplements or tricks that should be placed in a daily routine?
A. We are more susceptible to colds and flus during the winter months due to a few reasons, decreased sun exposure, less water intake combined with increased sugar intake and stress. To offset these I recommend insuring you are getting the proper nutrition through food firstly by having meals focused on high amounts of nutrient dense vegetables, then adding protein and high quality fats, while limiting carbohydrates and sugars. In addition to a whole foods diet, I recommend all my clients supplement with at least 3000 IU’s of Vitamin D daily- taken with a meal with fat. Many people do not absorb the vitamin D they take as it is fat soluble and needs to be taken with fat to digest and absorb into the body. Secondly if you are immunosuppressed and often coming down with an illness I suggest you look into a herbal supplement to build your immune system over the winter, I recommend Astragalus or a Medicinal Mushroom blend found at your natural health food store. (Always read and follow the labels)
Q. What are some ideas and examples for tackling cravings?
A. Having certain cravings can be signal from our body that we may have deficiencies. Take note and if you often having the same cravings it can mean the following:
Sweets – you may be lacking Chromium. Add more cinnamon into your diet, it is very rich in this trace mineral that helps to balance blood sugar. I suggest having a plain unsweetened yogurt, topped with nuts or seeds and cinnamon, you may sweeten the yogurt with a natural sweetener like monk fruit or a few drops of liquid stevia. This will curb the craving while having a very low amount of actual sugar.
Salty and Crunchy – Salty cravings may mean you are lacking minerals or need to support your adrenal glands (your stress glands), be mindful of the stress in your life and look into supporting your adrenals with herbs like ashwaganda. Healthy snacks for crunch and salty cravings are homemade roasted chickpeas, homemade roasted kale or vegetable chips, hummus with cucumbers and bell peppers add sea salt and pepper, raw nuts and seeds and peanuts in their shell.
Bread or Carbs – You may be lacking in Tryptophan. Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin – our happy hormone. Without this special amino acid we feel depressed and low in mood, and this is why we reach for breads or carbs. Try incorporating more whole grains, fish oils and pumpkin seeds into your day and you will feel happier and have less cravings!
Q.What are some strategies for breaking bad eating habits like: mindless TV/eating, late night eating, finishing the plate, because it’s there.
A. I recommend practicing time restricted eating to break late night and tv eating habits. With TRE you will limit eating to a smaller time period during the day, this encourages the body to burn stored fat as energy as well as helps the body properly cleanse during the fasting period. I recommend starting by limiting your eating window to 12 hours a day then work toward 8 hours, this means if you start eating at 7am then you will finish eating for the day by 7pm. This prevents you from looking in the fridge at 10pm. Check out our ‘Timing Your Nutrition’ blog post here for more information on time restricted eating. Secondly, I always encourage my clients to be mindful of their hunger, one trick is to think, “Am I hungry enough to eat an apple? If you are, then you may be actually hungry, if you are not, then you are just bored, not hungry” this help you put your hunger into perspective. In regards to finishing the plate just because the food is there, I suggest you purposely dish your plate up smaller than what you think you are hungry for, our eyes are always bigger than our stomach. Then once you’ve finished your portion take a moment to let your stomach signal to the brain that it is full. This normally takes 15 minutes. If at that time you are still hungry for more, allow yourself at that time to have another small portion. The trick is to be mindful of how much you are eating and when your body is satiated, then listen to what your body is saying.
Q. What are some examples of restaurant modifications and what to watch for?
A. When eating out at restaurants look for the protein, restaurants will have dishes focused around a quality protein like chicken, fish, beef etc. then have a carb and a vegetable. Ask the restaurant if they can substitute the carbohydrate (potato, rice, fries, noodles) for more vegetables, either double the salad or roasted vegetables. Many restaurants are willing to suit your needs. Example meal breakfast restaurant: Avoid carbs like pancakes, waffles, bagels or french toast and go for the protein on the menu like bacon and eggs, omelettes, eggs benedict (omit the english muffin).
Q. What are your recommended car foods for driving long distances and gas stations only giving bad choices?
B. Again preparation is key, you don’t want to rely on gas stations or fast food stops along the way. Pack a small cooler or bag with snacks to keep you fueled for the drive. I always pack myself a smoothie to start, then a jar of overnight oats or chia seed pudding with added frozen fruit to keep it cool until you are ready to eat. They are easy to eat on the road. Add snacks like a raw nut and seed mix (avoid dried fruit mixes), roasted chickpeas, fruit, hummus and sliced vegetables.
Q. What are some simple “go to” sauces/and dressings?
A. My go to dressing is a simple base of apple cider vinegar and olive or avocado oil, chilli flakes and dijon or spicy mustard, I keep this in a mason jar in the fridge for convenience. My favourite go to bought dressing is Little Creeks Okanagan dressing, made without any sugar unlike many dressings and tastes amazing. I use it as a dressing or as a sauce on many things like yams, quinoa or in marinades.
Q. What is the best type of foods to eat in the morning to stay full longer?
A. When you think of typical breakfasts like cereals, toast with jam, coffee with sugar, pre-packaged oatmeal etc. are full of sugar. Sugar and simple carbohydrates like these break down quickly in the body, spike our blood and then we are hungry again. It becomes a cycle. I recommend starting the day with protein and or fats that will balance blood sugars for the day, slowly digest and keep you full until lunch. Aim to add in nutrient dense vegetables to give your body the vitamin and mineral building blocks to support you through the day. Some examples are: avocado and spinach protein smoothie, steel cut oatmeal with nut butter stirred in and topped with pumpkin seeds or chia seed overnight pudding with blueberries.
Q. What to eat prior to a run or cardio session?
A. Prior to a long cardio session or run you want to fuel your body with easy to digest carbohydrates. The longer you have before a run the larger meal you can eat. You may also fuel with coconut or MCT oil, unlike most fats, these are made of medium chain triglycerides that don’t require typical fat digestion and go straight to the liver to be used for energy, this will also help your body begin using your own stored fat as energy. Some example of pre run meals are: fruit like bananas, oranges, grapes for quick carb fuel, a fruit smoothie, dates, rice cake with coconut oil spread, matcha smoothie with MCT oil.
Q. What to eat prior to a weight training workout
A. To fuel properly before a weight training workout it is similar to a cardio session but you will not need to “carb up” as much. I suggest 2-4 hours prior to the work out having a balanced meal of protein, quality fats and complex carbohydrates. Examples, oatmeal with peanut butter, scrambled eggs in coconut oil with chili flakes, protein fruit smoothie or a chia seed overnight pudding.
Q. What to eat after a workout or training?
A. It is imperative to refuel within 1 hour of your workout, especially if you are training cardio.The sooner after the training is best to refill the glycogen (energy) stores in your muscles and liver. It is important to refuel and recovery with a ratio of 4:1 carbs to protein that is easy to digest. Examples would be a smoothie containing protein with tart cherry juice (anti inflammatory for recovery), protein energy balls, fruit with nut butter spread.
Q. Is margarine a better choice than butter?
A. Often people think that margarine is a better substitution than butter. The truth is margarine is made from highly processing and refining hydrogenated oils along with emulsifiers, colorants and various artificial ingredients. I always go back to basics and what is closest to nature. When you process anything so highly you change the natural structural and remove valuable nutrients. While butter is as close to the whole food it began with, it also increases the good cholesterol which helps remove the bad. My preference is butter, but with everything, in moderation. I recommend finding a balance of quality fats from butter and oils like coconut, olive and avocado.
If you have more questions or want to learn more about any of these subjects feel free to reach out to me. Thank you for everyone who wrote in with their great questions!
Carmyn Ferguson, Registered Holistic Nutritionist