The month of March means spring break travel!

The month of March means March break travel, and if you’ve been sticking to your new year’s resolutions thus far with the idea of “summer body” in the back of your head, you probably want to avoid throwing all your hard work and progress out the window. Let me offer you a few tips and tricks to travel and stay on track without sacrificing the fun, care-free vacation vibes.

THE ROAD-TRIPPER:

Being on the road doesn’t mean you have to eat out and all the chain restaurants that pop up on the side of the highway. The best thing to do is purchase a cooler that you can plug into the cigarette lighter outlet to keep food cool inside the whole trip. Pack things like sandwiches, fresh fruit, individual hummus packets, pre-cut vegetable sticks, Greek yogurt cups, pre-cooked chicken breasts etc. You can also pack some dry foods as well such as protein bars and whole grain crackers to keep you satisfied and away from fast food. It would be wise to take a case of water bottles to stay hydrated, stay away from pop and fruit juices which could lead to you having over-energized kids in the backseat.  Packing your own is not only healthier, but way more cost-efficient. It’s a win-win!

THE JET-SETTER:

Most people start their vacation diet in the airport, simply because food availability is seemingly slim.  The Starbucks or Tim Horton’s restaurants don’t always have their full menu, and the convenience food is well, convenient! Since it’s hard to bring your own food with you through security the best advice I can give is eat a meal with protein at home before you get to the airport in order to know you’ve had a good meal and you are satisfied for the time being. Once you are through security and at the gates, you could always find a place that sells a salad with fresh grilled chicken you can bring on the plane with you or some healthy snacks to bring along! From my experience you can usually find some fruit here and there or some greek yogurt cups that wouldn’t be a bad choice! I also ALWAYS suggest grabbing yourself a massive water bottle for two reasons: having your own water you can say no to the complimentary pop and juice on the plane, and staying hydrated in the air helps to prevent feelings of jet-lag!

THE ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORT:

There is nothing better than showing up to your destination and having to plan or pay for nothing extra since it’s all already included! BUT, “free” food doesn’t mean you have to over-indulge. With the buffets or all-day snack bars, make sure you are listening to your body and understanding if you are truly hungry or eating because it’s social, emotional or simply because it’s there. If you aren’t quite sure how much to be consuming of one thing at a time, I always use the “eat by FIST” rule. One serving of anything should never be bigger than the size of your fist. Make sure to be eating adequate amounts of vegetables to ensure you are filling up on nutrient dense foods as well as incorporating some roughage to avoid that traveller’s constipation. Alcohol can be the biggest source of empty extra calories in someone’s day. One beverage can clock in anywhere from 150-300 calories, so if you are consuming up to six beverages a day you are adding in almost 900-2000 extra calories! If you are going to enjoy a few cocktails, always stick to the clearest alcohol you can find as it will be lowest in sugar, syrups and carbohydrates. Examples are vodka, white rum, gin, tequila etc. Speaking of beverages, again water will be your best friend especially if vacationing somewhere hot! Staying hydrated will not only keep you from experiencing head-aches, but will also keep you regular!

Lastly, but not least I’d like to touch on what everyone will probably be avoiding on their nice, relaxing vacation… EXERCISE! The extra calories and less healthy choices are inevitable, but if you could add in at least 1- minutes of intentional exercise a day, your body will LOVE YOU! This could be swimming, walking on the beach, hitting the hotel gym, hiking etc.

Happy Travels to all you vacationers!

 

Olivia Harty

Nutritionist

oharty@dynamichealthandperformance.ca

 

Let love be your lifestyle!

Sources: As stated, vitamin L is found in a great variety of sources but must be developed and nurtured to be available. Fear, anger, worry,
and many other human emotions can destroy vitamin L. It is found readily in most mums and dads, and is very highly concentrated in grandmothers and grandpas. Vitamin L is also found in cats, dogs, and horses, in flowers and birds; and in trees and plants. In food, it is especially found in home-cooked or other meals where vitamin L is used consciously as an ingredient. It is digested and absorbed easily and used by the body in its pure state, being eliminated almost unchanged; in this, it is unique among the vitamins.

Functions: This vitamin acts as the “universal” vitalizing energy. Vitamin L helps to catalyze all human functions and is particularly important to heart function and the circulation of warmth and joy. Digestion is very dependent on appropriate doses of vitamin L, as is the function of the nervou system. Adrenaline, the brain endorphins, natural tranquillizers and other hormones are enhanced by vitamin L as well.

valentines-day-1947567-stock image

Uses: The list of uses is even longer than that of the functions. Vitamin L is an important nutrient in all human relations, domestic to international. We should definitely put it in the drinking supply! It is a vital ingredient in all health practitioners, doctors, clinics, and hospitals. Besides being referred to as the “universal” vitamin, Love is also known as the “vitamin of healing.”

Deficiency and Toxicity: There are rarely any serious problems from excess intake of vitamin L. Side effects, however, may include swooning, a strange
feeling in the chest, goose pimples, and staring blankly into space. Usually, though, amounts many times the minimum requirements offer no difficulty and are often helpful. Abrupt withdrawal from regular vitamin L use could be hazardous, as the love vitamin is somewhat addicting. Most people more easily tolerate increased amounts of vitamin L though huge increases should be taken slowly to prevent the side effects mentioned previously.

Requirements: The requirements may vary from person to person according to a wide range of factors. There are no specific RDA’s (Recommended Daily Allowances) for vitamin L, although infants and small children usually require fairly large doses. The suggested minimum from the Chinese culture is four hugs per day to maintain health. Recently though, the International Hug Association (IHA) has changed its guidelines and suggests that a minimum of four hugs daily is needed to prevent vitamin L deficiency, six hugs a day for maintenance and ten hugs per day for growth.

 

Olivia Harty

Nutritionist

oharty@dynamichealthandperformance.ca

 

Food and Mood!

eat-happy

A new year begins and January rushes by as we start to get busy with all the new tasks, goals, plans, and resolutions. By the time February rolls around, we begin to settle into our new routine, but so do feelings of seasonal depression. We blame the weather, but have you ever thought about how what you eat can change the way you feel, the way you think, improve your energy levels and help you cope with stress? Here’s how:

  1. Blood Sugar Control

How often are you eating through-out the day, and what do those meals/snacks look like? When our blood sugars are spiked up high due to a high Glycemic Index food or foods that have a quick release of sugar into our bloodstream, our sugars then will drop even lower than they should.  The higher the blood sugars go, the lowers they drop. When we get ourselves into a blood sugar dip, we become irritable, get headaches, become cranky, can’t focus as well and crave even more sugar! Once we indulge in our next quick fix of sugar and repeat this cycle over and over, you go from cranky to monster! Some tips to avoid this blood sugar roller coaster are:

  • Choose whole foods- whole grains, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, low GI fruits and veggies
  • Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and veggies per day and choose leafy, dark green and root veggies to ensure vitamin, minerals and fibre intake is adequate
  • Avoid fruit juice, sugar, processed foods and foods containing refined sugar
  • Eat protein with each meal and snack
  • Eat 5-6 balanced mini-meals per day including breakfast

 

  1. Nutrient Deficiencies and Neurotransmitter Production

Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that allow us to relay messages all over our body. Some of us may not have optimal levels of neurotransmitters and our diet could be the cause. When we are lacking or are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals our neurotransmitter production becomes sub-optimal. The two neurotransmitters I would like to discuss are serotonin, and dopamine.

Serotonin is responsible for our mood, memory, and sleep. When we find this neurotransmitter to be low we start to see signs of seasonal disorder/depression and possibly insomnia. How to boost this neurotransmitter through diet: vitamin D, chocolate, leafy greens, and bananas are a few examples. You can also increase this neurotransmitter through sleep, spending time in nature, smiling, and exercise!

Dopamine is responsible for giving your brain energy. It is a reward neurotransmitter that gives us motivation, pleasure and euphoria. If this neurotransmitter gets too low we can experience lack of motivation and have problems staying focused or holding our attention to a task. Ways to improve dopamine levels are: fish, eggs, spirulina, red beets, apples, kale, oregano oil, bananas, and berries.

 

  1. The Sunshine Vitamin

It’s no secret that living in Canada can get a little depressing in the winter months, but did you know a vitamin deficiency is actually the cause of these feelings, and the lack of sun is causing it! Vitamin D is a vitamin that becomes activated in our system through sunlight. As the gloomy winter days roll around, our stores of vitamin D begin to deplete, and we have no way of filling them back up. This is when supplementation comes into play. Food, vitamins and minerals are medicine! By increasing your vitamin D intake through supplementation in the winter months can improve your mood and way of thinking drastically. The good thing about this vitamin is that it is fat soluble so it will build up nicely in your system and keep you feeling wonderful all winter long!

 

  1. Cortisol Control

STRESSSSSSS! We all experience it, we all blame it, but who does anything about it? Stress is nothing more than a reaction. Once you begin to think about it as that, you can gain more control over it. By reaction I mean simply that. We experience stress, our body goes into fight or flight mode, our cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems become engaged, sugar is released into our blood and our cortisol levels go through the roof. This is ok to be occurring once and a while as this survival mechanism is meant for short, rare occurrences. For most of us, we live in a state of chronic stress, which means our body systems, our blood sugars and our hormones are constantly being put to work and at higher levels then they need to be. Since we’ve already discussed blood sugar control, I’d like to focus on how to control cortisol levels. Cortisol interferes with immunity, sex drive, sleep, weight control, and other aspects of health like our bones! Good news is there is a long list of vitamins, minerals and botanicals that can help reduce these levels of cortisol.

  • Vitamin C
  • B-Complex (especially vitamin B6)
  • Calcium + Magnesium
  • Green tea (Theanine content)
  • Magnolia Bark
  • Licorice Root

Are you starting to feel like 2017 is already got the best of you? Maybe it’s your nutrition! Making sure we control blood sugars, avoid nutrient deficiencies, and work to control our stress, an incredible improvement in mood can be accomplished!

 

Olivia Harty

Nutritionist

oharty@dynamichealthandperformance.ca