Let’s finally put an end to the debate of raw vs. cooked.
Of course, in the grand scheme of a well-balanced, nutrient-dense, varied, whole foods diet, the cooked vs. raw debate isn't that critical for most people.
Where this can become a consideration is for vitamin and mineral deficiencies (or "insufficiencies"). These may be due to digestion or absorption issues, or avoidance of certain foods (due to allergies, intolerances, or choice).
And let us tell you that the answer isn't as simple as "raw is always better" or "cooked is always better." As with most nutrition science, it depends on several factors. Some vitamins are destroyed in cooking, while others become easier to absorb (a.k.a. more "bioavailable").
Here is the skinny on vitamins and minerals in raw foods versus cooked foods.
Foods to eat raw
As a general rule, water soluble nutrients, like vitamin C and the B vitamins, found mostly in fruits and vegetables, are best eaten raw.
The reason why is two-fold.
First, when these nutrients are heated, they tend to degrade; this is from any heat, be it steaming, boiling, roasting, or frying. Vitamin C and the B vitamins are a bit more "delicate" and susceptible to heat than many other nutrients.
Of course, the obvious way to combat these nutrient losses is to eat foods high in vitamin C and B's in their raw form (like in an awesome salad) or to cook them for as short a time as possible (like quickly steaming or blanching).
Fun fact: Raw spinach can contain three times the amount of vitamin C as cooked spinach.
The second reason why foods high in vitamin C and the B vitamins are best eaten raw is that they're "water soluble." So, guess where the vitamins go when they're cooked in water? Yes, they're dissolved right into the water; this is particularly true for fruits and veggies that are boiled and poached but even for foods that steamed as well.
Of course, if you’re a savvy health nut, you’ll probably keep that liquid to use in your next soup or sauce to preserve those nutrients that are left after cooking. Just don’t overheat it or you may lose what you were aiming to keep.
But, how much loss are we talking about? Well, of course, it ranges but can go from as low as 15%, up to over 50%.
In short, the water soluble vitamins like vitamin C and the B vitamins degrade with heat and some of what's left over after they're heated dissolves into the cooking water. So be sure to cook your fruits and veggies as little as possible, and keep that cooking water to use in your next recipe.
Soaking nuts and seeds
Regarding raw nuts and seeds, it may be beneficial to soak them. Soaking nuts and seeds (for several hours at room temperature) allows some of the minerals to become "unlocked" from their chemical structure, so they're more absorbable.
Foods to eat cooked
Cooking certain orange and red “beta-carotene rich” veggies (e.g. tomatoes, carrots, & sweet potatoes) can help make this pre-vitamin A compound more absorbable.
Fun fact: One study found that absorption of beta-carotene was 6.5 times greater in stir-fried carrots than in raw carrots!
Of course, eating your fat-soluble vitamins with a bit of fat will help you to absorb more of them, so that’s one factor to consider.
One vegetable that’s best eaten both raw and cooked
And we're not just saying this to get everyone to eat it any way possible (although, we would love for this to happen...unless you’re allergic, of course).
Spinach contains so many beneficial compounds that it's great eaten both raw and cooked.
Eating raw spinach preserves the water-soluble vitamins C & the B vitamins.
Eating spinach cooked allows the pre-vitamin A, as well as some of the minerals like iron to be better absorbed. Not to mention how much spinach reduces in size when it’s cooked, so it’s easier to eat way more cooked spinach than raw spinach.
The old nutrition philosophy of making sure you get a lot of nutrient-dense whole foods into your diet holds true. Feel free to mix up how you eat them, whether you prefer raw or cooked just make sure you eat them.
Recipe (cooked spinach): Sauteed Spinach
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 bag baby spinach leaves
1 dash salt
1 dash black pepper
1. In a large cast iron pan heat olive oil.
2. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
3. Add spinach, salt, pepper and toss with garlic and oil.
4. Cover pan and cook on low for about 2 minutes.
5. Saute cook spinach for another minute, stirring frequently, until all the spinach is wilted.
6. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Enjoying the cooked spinach with the vitamin C in the “raw” lemon juice helps your body absorb more of the iron.
Yes, we're serious! (And don't you sometimes wonder anyway?)
You already know that your poop can reflect your physical, and sometimes even emotional, health.
You may get constipation or have diarrhea when you eat something that "doesn't agree with you," or when you're super-nervous about something.
And what about fiber and water? If you’re not getting enough, it’ll probably show in your poop.
What about the all-important gut microbes? If they're not happy, it'll probably show in your poop.
Here’s a trivia question for you:
Did you know there is an “official” standard for poop? I mean a university-created chart! One that is used to help diagnose conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
Meet the Bristol Stool Scale
The Bristol Stool Scale was created at the prestigious University of Bristol in the UK back in 1997.
You can see the chart here.
The scale breaks down type of poop into seven different categories ranging from type 1 which is very constipated, to type 7 which is diarrhea:
1 - Separate hard lumps (very constipated).
2 - Lumpy and sausage-like (slightly constipated).
3 - Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface (normal)
4 - Smooth, soft sausage (normal).
5 - Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (lacking fiber).
6 - Mushy consistency with ragged edges (inflammation).
7 - Liquid consistency with no solid pieces (inflammation).
Other “poop” factors to consider:
You probably guessed that the shapes described in the Bristol Stool Scale are not the only thing to consider for poop health.
Think about how often you go. At least once per day, up to 3 times per day is pretty good. Less than one, or more than three can mean there is something going on.
What about how hard you have to try to go? You want it to be as effortless as possible.
And the colour? It should be brown from the bile that you need to break down the fats you ingest.
And if it’s green after a day of massive veggies, or red after that large glass of beet juice, you’re just fine.
But if you see an abnormal colour, like red or even black, that you can't explain based on what you ate or drank in the last day or two, you probably want to get that checked out.
What do you do when you have "imperfect" poo?
Well, the first thing to consider is how imperfect it is, and how often it is like that? Once in a while, things aren't going to be perfect, and that's A-OK.
If you know you need to get more fiber or water, then try increasing that.
If you haven’t had enough probiotic foods, then try getting more of them.
If you’re super-stressed, then try deep breathing, meditating, or having a warm bath.
Oh, and don’t forget the two most basic pieces of nutrition advice:
These are good habits for anyone and everyone, even when you have perfect poop!
Of course, long-term issues might require a more thorough review with a qualified health care practitioner. Don't suffer from poop issues for too long before seeking help.
Recipe (dairy-free probiotic): Super-Simple Coconut Milk Yogurt
2 cans full-fat coconut milk
2 probiotic capsules,
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Fermenting food is not an exact science. If this doesn’t work out as you’d like it to, try different brands of coconut milk and/or probiotics.
The words “weight-loss” and “snacks” often appear in the same sentence.
But that might also bring thoughts of "tasteless," "cardboard," and "completely unsatisfying."
Let us give you our best weight-loss friendly snacks that aren't just nutritious but also delicious!
What’s our criteria you ask?
They have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way; foods that contain protein and/or fibre.
1 - Nuts
It’s true - nuts contain calories and fat, but they are NOT fattening!
Well, we're not talking about the “honey roasted” ones, of course. Those probably are fattening.
Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner.
By the way, nuts also contain protein and fiber, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.
Did you know that almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism!
Tip: Put a handful of unsalted/unsweetened nuts into a small container and throw it in your purse or bag.
2 - Fresh Fruit
As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (We're sure you’re not too surprised!)
Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (we're not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain a fair bit of water and fiber; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories.
Fiber is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the "satiety factor") but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious "blood sugar spike."
Try a variety of fruit (apples, pears, berries, etc.) and pair that with a handful of nuts.
Tip: Can't do fresh? Try frozen. Plus, they're already chopped for you.
3 - Chia seeds
This is one of our personal favourites…
Chia is not only high in fibre (and we mean HIGH in fibre), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes THOSE omega-3s!). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.
Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?
They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up).
Tip: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of nut milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, and/or cinnamon and enjoy!
4 - Boiled or poached eggs
Eggs are packed with nutrition and most of it is in the yolk.
They contain a lot of high-quality protein and a good amount of vitamins and minerals.
And recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk.
Yup, you read that right!
Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack!
5 - Vegetables
We don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe we need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.
Veggies contain fibre and water to help fill you up, and you don't need us to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?
You can easily open a bag of baby carrots and/or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized).
Tip: Use a bit of dip. Have you put almond butter on celery? How about trying our new hummus recipe below?
Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. Prepare them the night before if you need to. They will not be "tasteless," like "cardboard," or "completely unsatisfying." Trust us!
Recipe (Vegetable Dip): Hummus
Makes about 2 cups
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
⅓ cup tahini
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 dash salt
1 dash pepper
1. Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to thin it out with a bit of water, so add it 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time and blend.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Don’t like sesame? Use an avocado in place of the tahini, and olive oil in place of the sesame oil.
Food intolerances or "sensitivities" can affect you in so many ways.
And they’re a lot more common than most people think.
We're not talking about anaphylaxis or immediate allergic reactions that involve an immune response. Those can be serious and life-threatening. If you have any allergies, you need to steer clear of any traces of foods you are allergic to, and speak with your doctor or pharmacist about emergency medication, if necessary.
What we're talking about, is an intolerance, meaning you do not tolerate a specific food very well and it causes immediate or chronic symptoms anywhere in the body. Symptoms can take hours or even days to show themselves. And symptoms can be located just about anywhere in the body.
This is what makes them so tricky to identify.
Symptoms of food intolerances
There are some common food intolerances that have immediate and terribly painful gastrointestinal symptoms, such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease. These can cause stomach pain, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea; symptoms can start immediately after eating lactose or gluten.
On the other hand, other more insidious symptoms may not be linked to foods in an obvious way.
If your body has trouble digesting specific foods, it can affect your hormones, metabolism, or even cause inflammation and result in any of the symptoms listed above. And these can affect any (or all) parts of the body, not just your gastrointestinal system.
How to prevent these intolerances
The main thing you can do is to figure out which foods or drinks you may be reacting to and stop ingesting them.
We know, we know...this sounds so simple, and yet it can be SO HARD.
The best way to identify your food/drink triggers is to eliminate them.
Yup, get rid of those offending foods/drinks. All traces of them, for three full weeks and monitor your symptoms.
If things get better, then you need to decide whether it's worth it to stop ingesting them, or if you want to slowly introduce them back one at a time while still looking out to see if/when symptoms return.
Where to start: Two common food intolerances
Here are two of the most common triggers of food intolerances:
This is by no means a complete list, but it's a good place to start because lactose intolerance is thought to affect up to 75% of people, while "non-celiac gluten sensitivity" can affect up to 13% of people.
So, if you can eliminate all traces of lactose and gluten for three weeks, it can confirm whether either or both of these, are a source of your symptoms.
Yes, dairy and grains are a part of many government-recommended food guidelines, but you absolutely can get all of the nutrients you need if you focus on replacing them with nutrient-dense foods.
A reliable way to monitor how you feel after eating certain foods is to track it. After every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate, and any symptoms so you can more easily spot trends.
Check out this link for your free Food Journal Tracking sheet!
And, as mentioned earlier, symptoms may not start immediately following a meal. You may find, for example, that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating bananas.
You might be surprised what links you can find if you track your food and symptoms well!
IMPORTANT NOTE: When you eliminate something, you need to make sure it's not hiding in other foods, or the whole point of eliminating it for a few weeks is lost. Restaurant food, packaged foods, and sauces or dressings are notorious for adding ingredients that you'd never think are there. You know that sugar hides in almost everything, but did you also know that wheat is often added to processed meats and soy sauce, and lactose can even be found in some medications or supplements?
When in doubt you HAVE to ask the server in a restaurant about hidden ingredients, read labels, and consider cooking from scratch.
What if it doesn’t work?
If eliminating these two common food intolerances doesn’t work, then you can go one step further to eliminate all dairy (even lactose-free) and all grains (even gluten-free) for three weeks.
You may need to see a qualified healthcare practitioner for help, and that's OK. We don't want you to continue suffering if you don't need to!
Recipe (dairy-free milk): Homemade Nut/Seed Milk
Makes 3 cups
½ cup raw nuts/seeds (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds)
2 cups water
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can double the recipe and store the milk in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
Not everyone should be taking digestive enzyme supplements; and not all of them are created equal.
As health care practitioners, we find that many people with digestive issues want to jump straight into using a supplement. And many times we would rather they try other strategies first. Not to mention, that some supplements can be harmful if used inappropriately.
So, let’s dive into a few of the common digestive enzymes, what they do, and who should NOT take them.
What are digestive enzymes?
Technically, “enzymes” are compounds that help critical biochemical reactions to happen in your body. These reactions can be anything, from making neurotransmitters like serotonin, to burning food for energy, to breaking down food we eat into smaller pieces that our guts can absorb.
Oh, and they all end with “ase”.
As we just hinted, “digestive enzymes” are specifically those enzymes we use for digestion. They’re enzymes that our digestive system naturally make and secrete when we eat.
Now, all of the “macronutrients” we eat (carbs, protein & fat) need to be broken down into their individual (smaller) parts so that we can properly absorb and digest them. They’re just too big otherwise, and if we don’t absorb them properly, we can get symptoms of fatigue, malnutrition, digestive distress, or a host of other symptoms.
It is these individual (smaller) parts that our body amazingly rearranges and uses to create other larger molecules that our body needs.
The most common digestive enzymes you’ll see on product labels are:
Who should consider taking digestive enzymes?
We would always recommend that you see a qualified health care practitioner for an expert opinion on whether your issues can be related to digestion, and which, if any, supplements can help you.
In general, the most common digestive symptoms that enzymes may help with are bloating, cramping, and/or diarrhea. Particularly if it happens after eating certain foods (think lactose-intolerance symptoms after eating dairy).
One reason for these symptoms can be that food particles are not broken down properly, and the larger pieces travel further down the digestive tract to the microbiota where those little critters start breaking them down themselves. And this is definitely troublesome for certain people.
Don’t get us wrong, a healthy gut microbiota is absolutely essential for good health. And more and more research is showing just how it can affect not only our digestion, but also our immune system, and even our mood.
What do I need to know? - Medical conditions
Of course, you should read the label of any products you take, and take them as directed, especially if they’re not specifically recommended for you by your health care practitioner who knows your history.
Here are two critical things to be aware of:
1 - Digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates into sugars are not recommended for diabetics, or pregnant/breastfeeding women.
This is because taking them breaks down more carbohydrates into sugars than your body normally would; so, anyone at risk of blood sugar issues should take caution.
2 - When it comes to enzymes that break down proteins into amino acids, there are a few people who should avoid them because of potential interactions. That is if you have an ulcer, or are taking blood-thinners or anti-inflammatories, or if you’re having surgery.
The reason is because the digestive enzymes that break down protein are thought to cause or worsen ulcers, as well as have the ability to “thin” the blood and prevent normal clotting.
What do I need to know? - Possible Side effects
Using digestive enzyme supplements for a prolonged period of time may well justify an appointment with a knowledgeable practitioner. There may be strategies other than daily supplementation that can serve you better.
If you find that your symptoms get worse, or even if they don’t get better, you should probably stop using them.
Allergies are always a possiblity, so if you know or suspect you’re allergic, then you should avoid them.
And, as always, keep supplements away from children.
Before considering a digestive enzyme supplement:
You shouldn’t just jump to supplementing with digestive enzymes without a proper diagnosis, or trying a few strategies first.
Our first recommendation for digestive distress would be to relax more, eat slower, and chew more thoroughly. This helps to break down food and can put less stress on your digestive tract.
The second step would be to try eliminating certain troublesome foods from your diet (dairy & gluten, for example) and see if that helps.
While many supplements are safe products, they’re not all for everyone.
We recommend that you:
Recipe (food containing bromelain & papain): Tropical (digestive) smoothie
1 cup pineapple, diced
1 cup papaya, diced
1 banana, chopped
1 cup coconut milk
ice if desired
Put all ingredients (except ice) into the blender and blend. Add ice if desired.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: The levels of enzymes in whole pineapple and papaya aren’t as concentrated as taking them in a supplement; so if you’re not allergic to these delicious fruits, you can try this smoothie.
Natural Medicines Database, Bromelain, Papain, Retrieved January 21, 2017 from https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com
During menopause women tend to gain weight. While this isn't great it’s pretty common and there are many reasons why.
Two reasons why women gain weight during menopause:
Reduced muscle mass. Muscle mass uses energy (burns calories) so when we have less of it the body burns less energy overall, leading to weight gain. Unfortunately, this weight gain may appear as increased belly fat.
During menopause there is an increase in the hunger hormone “ghrelin”. With an increase in this hormone comes the tendency to feel hungrier. Menopause also decreases the “satiety” hormone “leptin” that helps us feel full after eating, leading to overeating.
More ghrelin and less leptin = increased hunger and a decreased feeling of fullness...that’s a problem!
What does all of this have to do with breakfast?
Eating the right type of breakfast has been shown to help maintain muscle mass, balance levels of leptin and ghrelin, aid weight loss and helping to maintain that lower weight.
What makes a food “optimal” for breakfast in menopause?
Foods that help to increase metabolic rate, fill you up, and keep you feeling fuller longer.
Let's have a look at the characteristics of these “optimal” foods.
Make sure to get protein in the mornings. Eating protein is critical for women in menopause.
Protein helps to slightly increase metabolism and give your muscles the amino acids they need to stay strong. Protein also helps keep you feeling fuller longer which is great to try to offset that hunger hormone “ghrelin”.
Protein also helps to reduce bone loss that can happen very fast during this time.
Which foods are high in protein?
Read on and check out the great breakfast recipe for you to try tomorrow morning. It contains eggs which some say are the “perfect protein”.
Fibre is very important to help stabilize your blood sugars to reduce cravings. The reason this is particularly important in menopause is because the risk of diabetes and heart disease increases after menopause due to an accumulation of visceral fat in the abdomen. (Yes, we're talking about the infamous “belly fat”!).
Also, did you know that certain fibres you eat actually feed your friendly gut microbes? The ones that help you digest food and even make certain nutrients for you?
Which foods are high in fibre?
Here are just a few of the items you could add to your diet to increase fibre intake.
Bonus points if you get at least some of you daily fibre from flax. Flax not only contains fibre but it is also a source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Flax has even been shown to help reduce both hot flashes and the risk of breast cancer. Win-win!
What are “optimal” foods for breakfast in menopause? Ones that give you ample protein and fibre.
Recipe (Protein and Fibre): Vegetable Egg Muffins
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 red pepper (diced)
2 cups baby spinach (chopped)
1 cup mushrooms (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon flax (freshly ground)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease or line a 12 serving muffin tin.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add oil and saute diced pepper until tender (about 5 minutes).
Add mushrooms and garlic to frying pan and cook for an additional minute.
Whisk eggs and flax together in a medium bowl.
Place veggies into prepared muffin tin.
Pour the egg/flax mixture over the veggies.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are firm to the touch and eggs are cooked.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: Fresh farm eggs are best for health!
Do you get hot flashes?
Are they mostly at night?
Do they set the bed on fire (but not in that way)?
Let's get you some solutions!
Before we do that, just some quick info on why hot flashes occur so we can try to effect the root cause of these hormonal symptoms.
What causes hot flashes?
As you can imagine it's all about hormonal balance (or imbalance).
During the menstruating years your estrogen allows for your ovaries to respond when “luteinizing hormone” (LH) says to release those eggs every month.
When it gets to the point where your estrogen levels start dropping (i.e. perimenopause) those ovaries start to simply ignore the LH.
And guess what your body's response to this is?
It releases adrenaline!
This causes your body to heat up for a few minutes until it cools itself back down.
What triggers hot flashes?
You may have already identified some of the triggers of your hot flashes. Perhaps they're related to the food and drinks you consume (e.g. coffee, spicy foods, sugar, citrus fruit, large meals).
Maybe they're related to lifestyle factors (e.g. stress, alcohol, smoking, certain medications or intense exercise).
Or maybe they get worse as your weight slowly climbs? Did you know that some menopausal women who lose weight were able to eliminate their hot flashes? Win-win!
Let's reduce those hot flash triggers naturally, shall we?
Food #1 – Flax
Flax contains a “phytoestrogen” named “lignan”. Phyto (plant) estrogens are thought to help our bodies better balance hormones by mimicking them and binding to certain hormone receptors.
Flax also contains fibre and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Both are powerhouses for better gut and heart health, additional benefit!
But here's where it gets interesting.
One study looked at thousands of women who experienced at least 14 hot flashes per week. Researchers had them add four tablespoons of flax meal to their day.
Yes, just four tablespoons.
After 6 weeks the number of hot flashes they had dropped in half and the intensity of those hot flashes dropped by more than half!
Scientists think that's due mostly to the lignan content of flax seeds.
That's some super-food!
It's also pretty easy to increase your intake of flax. You can add one or two tablespoons into your smoothie or sprinkle it on just about anything (breakfast, salad, nut butters, etc.). Not to mention how easy it is to add to your baking. (Hint, see recipe below).
Pro Tip: Flax seeds should be ground up fresh in order to get most of their benefits because much of the healthy compounds in them are securely stored beneath the hard outer shell.
Food #2 – Water
OK, maybe this is more of a “drink” than a food but hear us out.
When you get hot flashes you're losing more water than you normally would. Similarly to when you exercise.
Make sure you replace those critical fluids by drinking enough water. A good habit is to make sure that you don’t get to the point of feeling overly thirsty by keeping a bottle, glass, or cup beside you all day long for frequent sips.
Water is definitely something to increase in your day when you're experiencing hot flashes.
There are two critical things you should do if you experience hot flashes: increase your intake of both flax and water.
Recipe (flax): Gluten-Free Oatmeal Muffins
1 banana (very ripe)
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup coconut sugar (optional)
½ cup flax meal*
¼ cup oat flour* or other gluten-free flour
½ cup oats (gluten-free)
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup nuts or dark chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F and line 6 muffin tins.
Add banana, oil, egg, and sugar (if using) into your blender and blend until smooth.
In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (oats, flax meal, gluten-free flour, and baking soda).
Add wet ingredients into dry and stir. Do not over mix.
Add nuts or dark chocolate chips, if using.
Spoon into muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 min.
Serve & Enjoy!
*Tip: You can blend flax and/or oats to make your own freshly ground flax meal or oat flour.
You are positive that you're not eating more food or “junkier” food but you're still gaining weight.
Is this possible?
Yes! You are NOT crazy!
And here's why.
We all know that the whole “calories in, calories out” argument is an overly simplistic view of weight.
There's definitely more to the story than just what you're eating, right?
A lot of this comes right down to your metabolic rate which is affected by things like your activity level, history of dieting, body composition, and even what you eat.
But, let's go beyond the “eat less and exercise more” advice and dive into some of the less obvious underlying reasons why you may be gaining weight even though you're eating the same.
Funny things happen the older we get. People commonly experience lower energy levels, more digestive discomfort, weight gain, as well as aches and pains.
Aging can result in hormonal changes for both men and women. And these can contribute to loss of some lean muscle mass, as well as increases and changes in fat storage in our bodies.
The good thing, is that this is very common and not your fault one bit.
Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism and can be a massive contributor to your weight gain. There are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.
When your thyroid gets off course and produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down. And when your metabolism slows down you can gain weight. Even though you're eating the same way you always have.
Pro Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your hormones tested. Oh, and try the thyroid-friendly recipe that we created for you at the end of this post.
There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.
And as we age it can become harder and harder to get a good night's sleep.
The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night to help avoid weight gain.
It's true! Lack of sleep is linked with weight gain.
Who ever thought you can sleep off your weight?
Pro Tip: Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. The first place to start is by implementing a calming bedtime routine.
It seems to be everywhere! There are so many things that can cause stress responses in your body.
And you know that stress hormones are not going to help you sustain healthy habits or maintain a healthy weight, right?
While you can't necessarily change your stressors you can try to adjust your stress response to them.
Pro Tip: Try meditation or yoga. Or even mindful eating. What about those new adult colouring books that are all the rage now?
There are lots of factors that can affect your weight, even if you're eating the same way you always have. Aging, hormones, stress, and sleep are all interconnected to each other and can all contribute to weight gain, even if you're eating the same way you always have.
Recipe (Thyroid friendly iodine): Seaweed Sushi Bowl
1 cup cooked rice
1 avocado (thinly sliced)
½ cucumber (diced)
½ red pepper (thinly sliced)
1 green onion (chopped)
2 tablespoons dried seaweed (arame, wakame, or crumbled nori sheets)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons gluten-free tamari sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ garlic clove
dash salt and pepper
Split the first seven ingredients into two bowls.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together to make the dressing.
Pour the dressing over the sushi bowls.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: This is a great lunch to take on the go. Keep dressing in a separate container so you can give it a shake before adding it onto the sushi bowl.
Bloating is generally the result of not being able to properly digest foods. These not-so-digested foods feel like they're just sitting around causing discomfort and a general feeling of being stuffed and “gassy”.
It can happen at any age but if it seems to be more frequent as you're getting older it can very well be because of your stomach's reduced ability to produce enough acid for proper digestion.
Normally, when we eat, cells in our stomach release more acid which is important for so many digestive processes like breaking down foods and activating enzymes. As we age this process can become less efficient and the result can feel like it's wreaking havoc on the rest of the digestive system.
Unfortunately, this can have wide-ranging effects on all of our digestion abilities “downstream” and that can result in bloating.
Bloating Reason #1:
Sometimes our bodies are (or become more as we age) sensitive to the fiber in certain fruits or veggies. This can also occur when we introduce new ones into our diet as it may take a while for our body to get used to them.
Pro Tip: Try chewing your vegetables more thoroughly, or lightly cooking or steaming raw ones. If a fruit or veggie seems to be consistently related to bloating try eliminating it for a few weeks and monitor your symptoms.
Bloating Reason #2:
Decreased stomach acid can reduce the activation of a key protein-digesting enzyme “pepsin”. This means that the proteins you eat aren't broken down as much and they can pass through your system somewhat “undigested”.
Pro Tip: You may consider reducing the amount of animal-based foods you eat and see if that helps you out.
Bloating Reason #3:
One thing that can seriously cause bloating is when your digestive system slows down. Then things seem to be a bit stagnant, just hanging around in there a bit (a lot?) longer than you'd like.
Ginger has been found to help with digestion and reduce nausea for certain people. And peppermint is thought to help your digestive muscles keep pushing food through, so it doesn't stay in one spot for too long.
Pro Tip: Consider drinking a digestive tea like peppermint or ginger. See our recipe below.
Bloating Reason #4:
All this lack of digesting in your stomach and small intestine puts extra stress on the large intestine. The large intestine is the home of all of your wonderful gut microbes that have SO many functions in the body. The problem is when undigested food enters the large intestine it can feed the not-so-great microbes. These “unfriendly” bacteria produce waste material and gas as a part of their natural metabolism. The more of these microbes you have in your system (they will multiply if they are constantly being fed by undigested food in the large intestine) the more gas that will be produced in the large intestine.
Pro Tip: Try eating more fermented foods. Fermented foods contain probiotics which will feed the good bacteria and microbes in your system to keep the bad guys at bay This includes things like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (as long as these don't cause bloating for you!). Make sure they're unpasteurized and contain live cultures. If you cannot tolerate dairy based yogurt and kefir, dairy free options are available or you could make your own dairy free versions.
You can also consider taking a probiotic supplement. Just check the label first to make sure it's right for you.
Bloating Reason #5:
With reduced stomach acid you also have a reduction of the “activation” of several of your digestive enzymes (protein-digesting pepsin being one of them). In order for certain enzymes to go to work digesting your food they need to be activated. This usually happens with the assistance of stomach acid.
Pro Tip: You may consider trying an enzyme supplement to assist your body in digesting food while you work on reestablishing your own production of stomach acid (a healthy diet and lifestyle can do this!). But before you do make sure you read the labels because some of them interact with other supplements, medications, or conditions, and may not be safe for long-term use.
You can try the “pro tips” we've given you in this post. Maybe you'd prefer working with a practitioner on an elimination diet to get to the bottom of which foods you may be sensitive to? If bloating is a serious problem you should see your doctor or alternative health care practitioner.
Recipe (Tummy Soothing Tea): Ginger Tea
Fresh ginger root (about 2”)
Lemon slices (optional)
Pour the water into a saucepan and heat it on the stove.
Grate the ginger root into the saucepan. Let it come to a boil, and then simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Strain the tea into a cup with a fine mesh strainer and add lemon and/or honey as desired.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: If you don't want to use a grater and strainer then you can peel the ginger and thinly slice it into your cup before adding boiling water. The pieces should be big enough that they will sink to the bottom.
Of course, listen to what your doctor says.
And also listen to what your body says.
We all know that what you eat and how you move can make a HUGE improvement in some of the symptoms of menopause. Not to mention how common it is for ladies to gain weight at this time of life. (Ugh!)
And as we all know eating better and moving more can help you stave off other issues like heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.
What do we specifically recommend to help you “eat better and move more”?
Seven things. Here goes:
First - Hydrate:
Drink more water.
The general consensus is to drink 8-10 glasses per day. And, if you don't feel you need that much you definitely need to at least drink enough throughout the day so that you're not thirsty.
We know that's easy to say but really it's also easy to do.
Try having a full glass first thing in the morning before you eat or drink anything.
Don't like plain water? Add in some berries or chopped frozen fruit.
Prefer tea? Steep some sliced lemon and/or ginger or your favourite caffeine-free herbal teabag. This counts toward hydration as well.
You can also keep a large bottle or mug beside you all day wherever you work so it's always easy to grab and have sips throughout the day to make sure you're not getting thirsty.
Second - Bump up your intake of whole plant foods:
Things like (yes, you guessed it) vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds. We're going for quantity here. Try to include them in every meal and even most (if not all) of your snacks.
Want another reason to eat more plants?
Plant-based diets are associated with fewer hot flashes. Bonus!
Plus, our recipe below is your “no excuse” solution to getting more veggies wherever you go.
Third - Don't forget high-quality protein:
While you're chomping your plant foods don't forget to include some good quality protein (and healthy fats) from eggs, fish, meat, nuts and seeds (and their butters).
With animal foods we're aiming for quality so try to get organic, wild, and/or pasture-raised if you can.
Fourth - Some things you want to cut back on:
Reducing and/or eliminating alcohol, caffeine and processed foods can have a tremendous impact on balancing your hormones naturally without the help of pharmaceutical medications.
With those increases in hydration, whole plant foods, and quality protein, you simply won't have as much room for alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods with added salt and sugar.
You already know that's good news, right?
Fifth – Move:
If you don't do this already try to move up to 5 hours per week. You can gradually increase that over time, and believe us, you will thank yourself!
To do this, include things like walking (especially outdoors in the sun, if possible), or even some weight-training.
You've heard the saying that the best exercise is the one you'll actually do?
Well, go ahead and do it. :)
Sixth - Get enough sleep:
We're talking 7-9 hours per night. Seriously!
Sometimes menopause can bring on (or ramp up) sleep problems.
The most important thing to do is set a daily routine where you're relaxing with no screen-time (computers, tablet, phone, tv) a couple hours before your bedtime. Electronic devices emit strong blue light which can prevent the release of melatonin, your sleep hormone. Try reading a book or having a bath. It's also important to have dim lights in your surroundings to reduce your exposure to blue light before bed. Regular indoor lighting is usually blue light. Ideally you would use amber or red lights, or even be ultra-stylin' with blue-blocker sunglasses.
Seventh - Find great stress relieving activities:
Do whatever works for you. Just make sure you do it regularly as a preventative measure to avoid accumulated stress.
Have you tried meditating, deep breathing, or having a warm bath? What about the newest craze of colouring?
Bonus points for using exercise as a form of stress relief.
You now have an arsenal of great ideas to stave off those menopause symptoms naturally.
Now go ahead and make two of these mason jar salads to eliminate any excuse of not being able to get fresh veggies when you're out and about.
Recipe (Veggie): Mason Jar Salad
3 tablespoons almond butter
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons sesame oil
½ granny smith apple (diced)
4 radishes (sliced)
2 celery stalks (diced)
4 tablespoons of your favourite nuts or seeds (walnuts, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
4-6 cups of your favourite greens (spinach, kale, mixed greens, etc.)
Add first four ingredients to a small bowl & whisk until smooth.
Add apple to dressing (so it's covered and won't brown) and divide between two mason jars.
Layer the radishes, celery, nuts/seeds, and greens on top and seal.
When ready to eat shake up the jar, open and enjoy or pour it into a large bowl to mix more thoroughly.
Tip: Wide-mouth jars work best for this ah-mazing way to bring veggies with you wherever you go!