February 22, 2018

Help for Many Common Health Afflictions

Question: What common mineral deficiency do North Americans have that if corrected, could result in major profit losses for the pharmaceutical companies?

Answer: MAGNESIUM.A few capsules on the two green leaves isolated on white background

This essential mineral is involved in over 300 enzyme systems in the body.

Translation: magnesium is one important nutrient! The more processed our diets are, the less magnesium we get, and the more ways the body will complain:

Do you get painful muscle cramps and/or muscle twitching? Magnesium supports proper muscle relaxation after contraction occurs.

Are you frequently constipated? Magnesium supports healthy elimination through the bowels.

Do you have high blood pressure? Magnesium works in tandem with calcium to control the tension of blood vessels, relaxing them to accommodate blood volume.

Woman Sleeping 2002Do you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep? Magnesium is involved in nerve impulse transmission, enabling a healthy nervous system function.  Many of my clients report a sounder sleep, with fewer awakenings while taking supplementary magnesium.

Do you suffer from anxiety? Magnesium has far, far fewer side effects than anxiety drugs.

Do you get sugar cravings? Magnesium is important for blood sugar metabolism, improving insulin sensitivity. This means it helps cells receive the glucose they need for energy production.

Women: Do you suffer from painful menstrual cramping? The uterus is a smooth muscle that we cannot contract and relax at will. During menses, cramps occur by contraction of the uterus in order to expel the unused blood-rich uterine lining.  If your cramping is incapacitating, you may benefit from supplementary magnesium taken every day of your period.

Those are just a few of the symptoms that I have seen benefit from magnesium supplementation.  It’s natural and safe, with virtually no side effects (compared to muscle relaxant drugs!)

Are all Magnesium Supplements Created Equal?

NO. Every mineral exists as a compound; that is, a combination of mineral and something else. Some compounds, like magnesium sulfate, are stinky and more likely to promote diarrhea. Magnesium oxide is not that well absorbed, and magnesium citrate at least contains the acid needed to dissolve magnesium (the first step to absorption). The best quality magnesium compound I have used in my nutritional counseling practice is magnesium glycinate.  By pairing magnesium with glycine, the smallest-sized of the amino acids, it is more easily absorbed into the body from the intestinal tract.  Here is the brand I like.

5 Things to Do if You’re Always Tired

Are you falling asleep at your desk? Can’t get through the afternoon without the boost caffeine and carbohydrates can temporarily give you? Is getting out of bed in the morning your biggest challenge of the day? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you would benefit from a thorough dietary and lifestyle evaluation.

The first step in doing this is to keep a diet journal. Don’t delay! Take a moment to get a free one right here:  7-day Diet Journal

juggle junk food1. Begin recording everything you eat and drink through the day, being sure to write down how much you’re eating. For example, did you have two plates of pasta or just one? Did you go for the largest size coffee or the small? Approximately how many almonds did you eat?  This exercise will bring a consciousness to your eating patterns, and can be very informative. It will reveal tendencies and patterns, which can serve as excellent motivation to change bad dietary habits.  Do this for at least a week.

2. Are you getting any fresh air?  (Walking to your car in the parking lot does not count, but standing at the bus stop does! ) .  Many buildings have poorly-maintained ventilation systems. Outdoor air is usually cleaner and more oxygen-rich than indoor air. Aim to spend at least 20 minutes outdoors daily! If it’s sunny, this is also a  good opportunity for vitamin D production.

3.  How often do you exercise? The brain and muscles depend on oxygen for their function, and physical exercise is the best way to improve circulation.    Do you exercise outdoors or indoors (see #2)?     Be sure to get some of your exercise outdoors. Consider cycling, skiing, swimming, skating, or hiking.

4.  Do a cStudio Portrait Of Depressed Womanommitment review.  What have you said ‘yes’ to that you wish you’d said ‘no’ to?  Is it because you are overwhelmed with responsibilities, and do you enjoy these responsibilities? Just being conscious of the fact that you have a long list of to-dos, projects and social commitments can take up a lot of energy!   Make a list of everything and start rating them according to their importance to YOU. Then, make a commitment to be more selective.

5. Weed out the energy-drainers. These consist of negative  people, places, TV programs, etc. that drag you down instead of make you feel good.  If you are feeling guilty about saying goodbye to the Sad Sallys in your life, set boundaries instead.  There is no law that says you have to answer the phone when it rings, or the front door, for that matter (unless it’s the police!).  Put yourself first more often.

There are a multitude of life coaches out there to help you organize and improve your life, and they can be very beneficial.   However, improving nutritional intake is critical for supporting yourself under stress in order to reduce fatigue so that you will have the energy to make the changes such a coach is recommending.  After all, the body and its chemistry is built and maintained by nutrients!

Once you’ve started keeping a diet journal I believe you will see how food and hydration affect your energy. Of course the next step is to CHANGE what you’re eating and drinking.    A holistic nutritionist can offer superior support in this regard, giving you personalized, practical and fun recommendations that makes your goal of increased energy more attainable!

Why You Should Stop Cooking with Olive Oil

Heat is one of the most destructive elements to unsaturated fats.

So why are people cooking with them??

I blame the media for over-simplifying the topic of fats, especially heart-healthy fats. Olive oil is a great example. Population studies have shown that olive oil is cardio-protective (heart-healthy); the media are all over it. Meanwhile, there’s cholesterol in butter and cholesterol being found in the occluded arteries of heart attack victims.  The next thing we know,  butter is being tossed out for olive oil in people’s kitchens. What a tragedy.

The truth is that the olive oil we’ve been told to buy is great on your salad, but it’s a terrible choice for cooking.Green Stuffed Olives

You knew frying was bad for you—but it’s even worse when you do it with olive oil and other unsaturated fats!

To understand why HEAT is an enemy, one needs to first recall that olive oil is composed of unsaturated fats.   The problem with unsaturated fats—which are liquid at room temperature— is that they are more ‘reactive’ than saturated fats (the kind that are still solid at 21 degrees C).  For chemistry reasons, even medium HEAT (over 325 degrees F) damages unsaturated fats, and can create toxic oil by-products in the food you’re frying.  These substances act as free radicals-—damaging the cells they come in contact with in ways that are not always immediately obvious but have been shown to cause irreparable damage, aging and disease with frequent exposure.   Who wants that? This is the reason why, if an oil smokes, it should be discarded, never used to cook food. It will make you sick.

Extra Virgins  Should be Treated As Such

“Extra virgin” olive oil is a minimally processed form of the oil, meaning chemical solvents and heat have not been used in its extraction from the olive fruit.  This is why it has a higher nutritional value than just ‘olive oil’.  The nutrients have not be damaged.   But like all natural and minimally-processed foods, olive oil will go bad if it is not stored or used correctly.  (You will notice that the ‘good stuff’—the kind that’s green—is usually in a darkly coloured glass bottle. This is because another enemy of oil is LIGHT. ). So it’s the WORST kind of olive oil to fry with.

How Hot is YOUR Frying Pan?

Unlike ovens, most stove top cooking ranges don’t reveal specific temperatures for different levels of heat on the display/knob. It is no wonder then that most of us are completely unaware of  just how hot our frying pans get.  The reality is, most of us like getting our cooking done quickly, so we crank it up to HIGH. This can quickly create a surface temperature of 500 degrees F in your frying pan—-a temperature NO food oil can tolerate without damage.

Unsaturated fats are delicate things. Respect your olive oil by keeping it in a cool, dark place—away from the stove, and out of the frying pan! Better yet—choose baking, steaming or poaching as they do not require added oils for a positive cooking experience.

 

What I Found in the Table Salt

Being the nutritionist I am, I read all food labels.  Once in a while there is one that really stumps me.  This time, it was my recent single-serving salad purchase from the grocery store to-go department came with a pre-wrapped package that included a fork, salt packknife, napkin, a packet of pepper and a packet of iodized salt.  Here’s what the salt packet contained on its list of ingredients:

First, the good stuff (sort of):

salt This surprisingly un-specific word should be listed as the first and only ingredient in table salt.  What kind of salt?  Am I to assume it’s sodium chloride? I can only hope it is,  as this is the safest, tastiest sodium compound. I’d rather it not be calcium chloride (road salt, which is not f0od-grade), but we don’ t know here because the salt packaging company has not told us! In chemistry, “salt” does not automatically imply “sodium”.  For example, potassium chloride is technically a salt that happens to taste like sodium chloride, but has a much lower margin of safety. And, things get dangerous when the wrong sodium is used. (For instance, sodium hydroxide is a highly caustic and poisonous compound used to clear clogged drains. ) Eek! I am actually surprised this lack of specificity has flown under the radar of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, who will not, understandably, allow the word  “carbohydrate” to be used to hide the type of sugar or starch used in a food product.

potassium iodide:  Don’t panic about this one. This compound is one of the safest ways to provide two essential minerals:  potassium and iodine. You will find it in most multi-vitamin-mineral products, too.  Since its inception as an additive to table salt in the mid-twentieth century, iodized table salt means goitre (a disease of the thyroid gland) and cretinism (mental retardation in children) has nearly eradicated these diseases from western countries.  Verdict: I approve.

Now, the bad news.  If any of the following additives are in your table salt, relegate it to the laundry room and use it as an abrasive sink scrub instead.

yellow prussiate of soda:  It’s also known  as E 535 and by its chemical name: sodium ferrocyanide. You don’t have to be a chemist to see that this compound contains cyanide—the poison used by many fictitious murders!  So why it it in my table salt? As it turns out yellow prussiate of soda kills two birds with one stone. Despite its name, it isn’t there to turn grey salt into yellow salt.  Instead, it acts as a bleaching agent, turning grey salt into the white salt that westerners have come to associate with purity. Secondly, this additive also doubles as a flow agent.  Without it, presumably your salt shaker would get clogged up. Recommendation: Avoid this unnecessary ingredient.

sodium silico-aluminate:  Also known as E554, this additive  is used to prevent caking and clumping. Remember, aluminum is NOT an essential mineral and in fact, the vast majority of chemists will agree it is a toxic metal for the human body. Less of a health concern is silica, a major element in sand and glass and possibly an essential mineral (silicon). Verdict? I’d avoid E554.

And that is what my packet of salt contained. The best way to avoid unnecessary and potentially harmful food additives in your salt is to buy sea salt Although there are many varieties of sea salt—pink Himalayan sea salt being one of my favourites—the common thread is that they contain NO additives—not even iodine.  But if you eat any processed foods–that is, canned, frozen, boxed or otherwise pre-packaged edibles—have no fear.  They will give you more iodized table salt than you bargained for.

 

Why Do I Crave Salt?

Chips with greensAndrea Answers: Why Do I Crave Salty Foods?

The simple reason is that sodium is an essential mineral in the human diet.  Without it, our blood pressure would drop, and our hearts would cease to beat.

 

The more complex and more interesting reason for salt cravings is STRESS.

Salt cravings are common in individuals who ‘burn the candle at both ends’. While these folks are overworked or overstimulated by their daily activities, their adrenal glands are also working overtime to produce the hormones that help them deal with stress.   You may recognize the signs of adrenal fatigue when no amount of sleep seems to rejuvenate your energy levels.  Tired adrenal glands cannot secrete cortisol and adrenaline, nor can they maintain aldosterone.

What is Aldosterone?

Aldosterone is a hormone produced by the male AND female adrenal glands.  It is not a sex hormone; rather, it regulates blood volume by a device reading blood pressurecontrolling how much fluid the blood cells are carried along in.  Adequate aldosterone production maintains a healthy blood pressure, whereas inadequate production causes blood pressure to drop. When the latter occurs, the body attempts to find another way to increase blood volume to ensure nutrients and oxygen get transported to the tissues.

So what does it do in the absence of adequate aldosterone to make this happen?  It asks for salt. Sodium!  While sodium won’t do anything to increase production of aldosterone, it will bring blood pressure quickly back to normal.

Think about the salty foods you crave. Are they salty and crunchy, like potato chips? Or are they salty, fatty and gooey, like melted cheese?meat pizza  According to Doreen Virtue, author of Constant Craving, the above differences may be explained by what emotions lead up to the craving. It’s something to think about. (Watch for my review of Doreen’s book, coming soon.)

If you suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) and you regularly crave salt, you probably shouldn’t increase your salt intake. Instead, ask yourself if you’re getting enough fluid.  The body is always seeking balance, and dehydration will only aggravate hypertension in an individual who already eats a lot of processed (salty) foods.

Whether your blood pressure is too low or too high, it’s a good idea to check your blood pressure regularly and consistently to monitor how your sodium intake affects it.

What salty foods do you crave?

 

 

Fueling Up for the Olympics: Nutritionist Recommended Snacks

Don’t you just love watching the Olympics? I do. Whether you are a hard-core athlete or simply a couch-potato watching the Games,  you Golden medal isolated on whitedeserve to celebrate with the champions by enjoying these healthy snacks:

Green Pea Guacamole: If guac doesn’t rock in your book, try this avocado-less alternative.  It has a fraction of the calories, but even more fibre than the traditional Mexican dip.

Roasted Chickpeas:  More protein and fibre than popped corn, these can be seasoned as mild or as hot as you’d like.  I’d  toss them in coconut oil, which is more heat-stable.

Mushroom Pate: Here’s a flavourful low-calorie spread for your favourite crackers that gives you the immune boost provided by shiitake mushrooms. These prized mushrooms are usually purchased dry, then soaked in water.

Banana Oat Bread:  This gluten-free “pound cake” will not tip the scales because it has no added sugar!

Enjoy! But remember to take exercise breaks every half hour during your marathon viewing sessions!

Immune Protection with Vitamin D

Is your immune system healthy? If you are prone to colds or the flu during colder months then your immune system is in sub-optimal condition.  Good news: if you take vitamin D you may reduce your risk of infection, says an accumulating body of  research.

Is Immunodeficiency Vitamin D Deficiency?allergy man

Most of us have heard that we can make our own vitamin D with exposure to UV light from the sun.  However, what is not well known is that the vitamin D manufactured in our skin needs to be converted to an active, useable form before it does us any good.  Once converted,  vitamin D’s immune-building benefits stem from its ability to alter the function of most tissues.  Adequate vitamin D status is associated with improved resistance to infections and healing of infections; meanwhile deficiency in this nutrient is linked to a weakened immune response.

How does it work?  It appears that vitamin D increases the production of anti-microbial proteins that provide a natural defense against disease-causing bacteria and viruses.

Low serum vitamin D levels are associated with an increased incidence of upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). This is not surprising, given that vitamin D production within the skin is initiated by exposure to ultraviolet light and the fact that UV light was successfully used to treat tuberculosis of the skin in the early 20th century.

Kids Need Vitamin D, Too

j0439333In a pediatric respiratory health study of 197 children, the acute lower respiratory infections (ALRIs) of bronchiolitis and pneumonia were correlated with low vitamin D status. Specifically, the mean average vitamin D level for infected children admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit was significantly lower than that observed for both the control (non-infected) group and ALRI subjects who were admitted to the general pediatrics ward.

Even other types of infection may be linked to low vitamin D status. In a study of 469 pregnant women, lower blood levels of vitamin D were associated with higher incidence of bacterial vaginosis—a relatively common vaginal infection found in expectant women.

How much vitamin D should a person take?

The amount you make depends on age, skin colour and of course, how much time you spend in sunshine. Some of the most recognized vitamin D researchers, such as Vieth, Holick and Bischoff-Ferrari agree that a minimum 25(OH)D blood concentration of 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L) appears necessary to experience the multitude of beneficial health effects of the vitamin.  Depending on your health status, it may take as little as 400 i.u. or as much as an extra 5,000 i.u. of vitamin D consumption daily to reach these optimal levels.

Ask your doctor to measure your blood levels of vitamin D to find out if what you’re getting is adequate for disease prevention or management. It will only set you back $30 to find out. If you fail, you won’t have to pay for the follow up test (here in Ontario). But be sure to ask for a copy of the result, not just whether it’s a pass or a fail!

Vitamin D is just one of many nutrients involved in creating a healthy immune system. Be sure to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement to avoid deficiencies in other important ones.

 

References

Shah S, Islam MN, Dakshanamurthy S, et al. The molecular basis of vitamin D receptor and betacatenin crossregulation. Mol Cell 2006;21:799-809.

Bartley J Vitamin D, innate immunity and upper respiratory tract infection. J Laryngol Otol. 2010 Jan 13:1-5.

McNally JD, Leis K, Matheson LA, Karuananyake C, Sankaran K, Rosenberg AM. Vitamin D deficiency in young children with severe acute lower respiratory infection. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2009 Oct;44(10):981-8.

Bodnar LM, Krohn MA, Simhan. Maternal vitamin D deficiency is associated with bacterial vaginosis in the first trimester of pregnancy. HN.J Nutr. 2009 Jun;139(6):1157-61.

Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med 2007;357:266-281.

Vieth R. What is the optimal vitamin D status for health? Prog Biophys Mol Biol 2006;92:26-32.

Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Giovannucci E, Willett WC et al. Estimation of optimal serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D for multiple health outcomes. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:18-28. Erratum in: Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:1253. dosage error in abstract. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:809.

3 Reasons Why Your Workout Is Leaving You Drained

In my practice I meet a lot of individuals who are exercising strenuously in effort to lose fat or grow muscle without nourishing their bodies adequately to allow for this type of routine.  Besides the obvious “overdoing it”, there are also three main nutritional reasons why exercise can make you feel worse than no exercise:

Problem #1: Dehydration.  Even if you drink water during your workout, you may be starting off dehydrated if your main daily beverage is caffeinated. Coffee, black tea, colas and certain ‘energy’ sodas have a dehydrating effect on the body’s water supply, taking your water-soluble nutrients with it. This is why dehydration is known to increase risk of muscle fatigue and cramping, two things that will pull the plug early on your session.

Tip: Start hydrating first thing in the morning. Drink at least 2 glasses of water (250 ml x 2, or 8 oz. x 2) upon rising. Not only will this rehydrate your cells before your morning coffee, it will flush out toxins your body prepared for excretion. For every cup of caffeinated beverage you drink, consume at least 1 cup of water.

Problem Half Coconut and Flower on Bamboo Mat --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis#2. Electrolyte imbalance or deficiency.  This is why plain water isn’t enough.  It is through heavy perspiration that strenuous exercisers lose a significant quantity of electrolytes—electrically charged, ionized minerals. Consisting of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, electrolytes maintain and carry electrical impulses across cell membranes from one cell to another as a form of communication between muscle cells and between nerve cells. Without a balance between electrolytes, physical and mental performance is compromised, especially in hot temperatures and/or during intense exercise. Deficiency is associated with muscle cramping, twitching, nausea, headache and an irregular heart beat.

Tip: Unsweetened coconut water with a pinch of sea salt is a natural alternative to the brand-name, artificially- coloured and flavoured electrolyte beverages  on the market. Coconut is one of nature’s  highest sources of potassium.  (You can buy unsweetened boxed coconut water in health food stores to save yourself the trouble of handling a whole coconut.) Remember to add the pinch of salt for balance because one mineral cannot do the job of another.kiwi and strawb

Problem #3: Not enough calories eaten. If you are eating too little in the way of quick-burning calories (energy) you may find yourself dizzy, tired or lacking stamina.   Maybe you are the type who can exercise on an empty stomach, but even if you are, you need to make sure your body has some stored  fuel on reserve to provide energy. This stored fuel can be in the form of glycogen (from eating carbohydrates) or fat.

Tip:  Eat some low-glycemic fruit before you hit the gym.  It is digested rapidly, won’t weigh you down and provides the brain and muscle fuel you need.  You will burn off the sugar during your workout.

As you can see, the most common causes of workout fatigue are easy to address. However, there are other reasons you may find yourself feeling flagged. Together, a personal trainer and a registered nutritionist are a good team to help you identify the culprits.

 

 

 

How to Get Your Optimum Magnesium Intake

mixed nutsMagnesium is one of the forgotten essential nutrients, overlooked by the food industry and the medical community in favour of ‘superstars’ like calcium and iron. Why is this so, when no other nutrient can perform the work of magnesium?

1.  Magnesium’s role in the human body cannot be categorized into merely one box.  So it’s tougher to market in a culture programmed to see things as ‘the cause of A (disease) is B ( habit) and the solution is C (drug, surgery, etc.)’. You may have noticed that things are rarely resolved so easily.  In fact, in nutritional science, the solution is usually the inverse of B!  All that is to say that magnesium is required in over 300 chemical reactions that keep you alive. Nerves, muscles, bones, hormones, the liver, the brain, ….all of these require sufficient magnesium to function properly.

2. We tend to think of natural supplements as ‘natural remedies’ instead of the essential nutrients that so many of them are.  Saying that magnesium “helps” with high blood pressure, constipation, PMS and headaches keeps us from remembering it doesn’t just cover up our ills like an analgesic (pain reliever) would; rather magnesium is an essential nutrient that maintains health (and therefore the absence of symptoms, the latter which occur when a nutrient is deficient).

3. There is no one disease that has been directly linked to magnesium deficiency.  Instead, there are probably hundreds of diseases, or symptoms that it is linked to. Compare this to scurvy, the disease of poor immunity that cannot be cured by anything but vitamin C.  Medicine likes to simplify and look for ‘the’ cause because too many variables make it too expensive or difficult to test using the scientific method.

 

In short, magnesium has not gotten the media attention it deserves.   You need it daily.  But consider this:

  • The foods richest in magnesium are the hardest to get enough of in your daily diet.  The richest sources—nuts— are banPile of Two Chocolate Brownies on a Platened from schools; greens are a kid’s worst dinner-plate nightmare. The health benefits of cocoa–also a very high source of magnesium—are arguably reduced by the detrimental effects of the excess sugar, fat and caffeine that chocolate-flavoured treats contain.  So  I challenge you to achieve the upper end of the RDI (recommended daily allowance) for magnesium–500 milligrams daily for adults—through diet alone.
  • We each have unique nutritional requirements.  Even if you calculate your intake to be close to the RDI, consider that due to a variety of genetic factors and lifestyle stressors, you may not be getting enough to function optimally. You may need 20 milligrams, or you may need 3 grams to prevent fatigue, muscle twitching or cramping, sugar cravings, insomnia, headaches and many other symptoms that are associated with inadequate magnesium intake.

Now for the information I promised you:

Here’s How You Can Find Out Your Optimal Daily Intake:

Step 1: Obtain a good quality magnesium supplement, such as magnesium glycinate in capsule form.  (By the way, by “high quality”, I mean highly absorbable.)

Step 2: Without changing your diet, begin taking one capsule of magnesium each day.

Step 3: Increase the dosage by one capsule each day (in divided intervals, such as morning and night). Be sure to record how many capsules and the total intake in milligrams, you have taken that day. This will be important later!

Step 4: Keep taking the magnesium in increasing amounts until you experience a very loose stool.  This means you have exceeded the amount of magnesium you can absorb in one day.

Step 5: Reduce the amount of magnesium by one capsule a day until the bowels produce a solid well-formed stool again. Not sure what that is? Aim for #3 or #4 on this chart: 460px-Bristol_Stool_Chart

Congratulations! You have identified your optimal magnesium intake.  Record the amount and any improvements in your health while you’re reaching your required intake. Improvements may include increased energy, fewer food cravings, lessened PMS (in women), prostate gland support, fewer headaches and muscle cramps, and more! Tell me about your experience here:

Important note: if you suffer from any diagnosed health condition, please talk to your medical or naturopathic physician before taking magnesium supplements.

Why and How to Cut 500 Calories From Your Day

Drinking a 20-ounce (590 ml) bottle of cola daily for a year without increasing your energy expenditure can result in a gain of 25 pounds.  Before you trade it in for an equal serving size of O.J., realize that the calories are near equivalent and they are all coming from sugars.  The rules of weight loss are simple:  if you are eating more than you need to support your body’s metabolic processes you will gain weight.  But did you know that by eating 500 fewer calories per day, you can lose 1 pound per week?weighty apple measure

Here are 5 easy ways to cut 100 calories from your diet:

1. Use mustard instead of mayonnaise. It doesn’t matter how much you use—you’ll get tired of squeezing the bottle before you have 100 calories of mustard on your sandwich!

2. Avoid ‘candy bars’ (for example, Mars, Snickers, Oh Henry! are all candy bars, disguised as chocolate bars).   Instead, purchase an actual chocolate bar and eat 2 squares of dark chocolate. You will enjoy it more if you eat less of it, and slowly.

3. Use celery sticks instead of crackers or bread when spreading your peanut butter. Again, you will be FULL before you can eat 100 calories worth of celery! (But make sure you stick to the same serving size of PB!)

4. Use stevia in your coffee and tea instead of sugar. Stevia is a plant with sweet tasting leaves that are dried and powdered, then bleached.  Stevia contains zero calories, and it is so sweet that a  little dash goes a long way! If it tastes bitter to you, you’ve used too much. It’s available in handy packets for convenient transportation. (If you plan to bake with it, follow me and watch for tips on how to use it properly, coming soon!).

5. When ordering fast food, avoid the temptation to ‘get a better deal’ by buying the drink-included combo.  Remember, that extra 240 calories comes from sugar! Instead, drink water. Flavour it by adding a drop of pure food-grade peppermint oil, or other essential oil extracts (shake or stir well before drinking).

…you’ve done it! That’s at least 500 calories spared. I bet you aren’t even feeling hungry.

Remember that weight loss should be mainly fat loss. If you want to lose fat, not muscle, be sure to obtain a body composition measurement before you start and once your new lifestyle has been in effect for at least 3 weeks, and then compare your measurements.

Do you have a favourite low-calorie snack? Please leave a comment here.