Clean eating is the act of cleaning up one’s diet and consuming more whole foods and less processed foods with a focus on quality, or as I like to say; “getting the most bang for your health out of food”. Sadly, clean eating has been tainted by some fad diets and some pretty questionable practices. One of these practices is the “clean eating” dessert trend/gimmick. Why?
Touted as being sugar free a large amount of these desserts are far from sugar free, they generally contain maple syrup, agave, honey, coconut sugar… all still sugars. Although honey and maple syrup consumed in small amounts (100 calories/week) is not going to make it break it when it comes to your health, consuming these sugars daily and regularly however is not a healthy habit. Dried fruits are another issue, they don’t work the in the body in the same way as whole fruits, they have a much higher blood sugar impact and should be treated like honey and maple syrup. We should be getting our sugar from whole fruits, grains, and vegetables….
We all know sugar is addictive and many associate sugars with desserts. Although some clean eating desserts use better quality sugars and ingredients, they are still contributing to the psychological aspect of the addiction. Non-alcoholic beer/wine/coolers and e-cigarettes have been proven not to support someone quitting because it is stimulating the same addictive pathways in the brain. These pathways need to be re-routed to break the addiction cycle in any addiction including a sugar/food addiction. Replacing poor quality desserts with "healthier" desserts is a good idea however one is still encouraging the same pathways in the brain.
Dessert culture is the foundation to emotional eating! If you finish your plate you can have dessert. If you are a good girl/boy mommy will buy you ice cream…. You get the picture. As adults, when we have a bad or even a good day we reach for those desserts as comfort or rewards because it has been programmed since we where children. By continuing the dessert culture with “healthier” desserts we are not addressing this emotional eating pattern at all, just justifying it.
Food addiction is one of the least talked about addictions and eating disorders, we need to stop being in denial and address this issue when trying to improve our nutrition. Clean eating desserts are just another way to avoid dealing with some of the underlying issues to unhealthy eating trends. It is not going to help you create a strong foundation for healthy eating practices.
Clean eating desserts are much healthier then traditional desserts full of refined sugars and flours and other questionable ingredients. They should however not be part of our day to day lives, but kept to holidays and celebrations, just don’t confuse those two with rewards or comfort moments!
Dana Clark CNHP, CHN, CHC, CLE
Eating healthy on a budget is real and possible. If done properly the majority of families/individual can eat healthy within their budget. First off let’s define healthy eating. Healthy eating is the act of eating wholefoods, limiting one’s consumption of processed foods with a focus on quality and eating a well balanced diet of nutrient dense foods. It’s eating for wellbeing and nourishment.
Let’s get started! No more excuses! Below are a number of tips to help you stay on budget, while keeping health at the top of mind.
Finally, don’t over think it. Eating healthy is quite simple. Not all meals need to be culinary delights. Go back to basics by focusing on produce, whole grains, legumes and proper amounts of animal products (fish, eggs, poultry and meat) – not packaged pre-made cheap quality foods.
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHN, CHC owner or From the Roots Holistic,
Published in the Alive + Fit Magazine, Summer 2017 page 28
What is moderation, if you ask a group of individuals you will get a variety of answers based on their beliefs. One may indicate to a client they need to limit a specific food item but based on the individual’s personal definition of moderation they still may over-consume the food item or become too restrictive and loose joy in eating. I prefer not to use this term and cringe when I hear other health & wellness professionals use this term.
There are foods that are less healthy but can still be part of healthy way of living, like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil (yes despite all the information in the recent media), and flours made from quality grains, these food items are still processed foods and are not as healthy as eating their whole food source. Therefore, in this instance, they should be limited to only 1/serving a day and as one transition to a healthier way of living work down to 4-5 servings a week. The first step to healthy eating is education and awareness if you can’t get it down to 1/serving a day right away work your way there.
“There are no bad foods and everything in moderation!” I don’t like the “bad” food label but there are foods that are counterproductive to our wellbeing, these foods fall into two categories. The first is foods that are disadvantageous to all of us, they either provide absolutely no nutritional value or what they do provide is offset by their negative effect on our bodies. These foods may have an obvious effect on an individual or an underlying effect that is not visible or expressed until disease or health imbalances set in. An example is added sugar. It causes weight gain, inflammation, blood sugar imbalances, suppresses the immune system and much more. Its effects can be obvious or not obvious until disease sets in. There is absolutely no nutritional value to added sugars, our bodies receive all the sugar they need from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. So, what is the balance in this situation?
Healthy eating is not a diet it’s not all or nothing or black and white, there is always wiggle room. Let’s be real, healthy eating is about being happy and feeling great! If you eat 90% healthy and let it go 10% of the time, it’s not going to make it or break it. Just like if someone eats poor quality foods all the time, they are obviously not going to become healthy if they eat the occasional salad. If you have reached your goals and have no major underlying health conditions a couple of months out of the year you can even let this slip to 80/20. Avoid using your 10% as a reward, this can lead to emotional eating. Keep your 10% to special occasions or living in the moment occasions. Remember not to make this a habit or make special occasions out of everything, that 10% can easily become 30%+ and those poor food choices become once again part of your eating patterns. Unhealthy foods are addictive and even those of us who know well and do well can easily fall into poor eating habits. Another word of precaution, when one transition to healthy eating, our bodies become healthy and confident. A healthy confident body speaks out, it does so by making us feel unwell. This can happen when we indulge during our 10%, it is important to acknowledge this communication and provide your body with lots of water and follow up with healthy meals and appreciate this communication and reminder of the importance of eating healthy.
The second harmful food category is foods that cause reactions or aggravate imbalances in specific individuals. For example, some foods even healthy foods are harmful in certain conditions or individuals, it may be temporary or permanent. In this instance, a person may avoid these foods completely or limit them and manage them with specific treatments or rotational protocols. Sadly, many of these individuals are judged, this is not some fad or hypochondria these are real issues that are addressed using nutritional protocols. We have been using food as medicine for thousands of years, with changes in thoughts towards disease and the reliance on allopathy and medicines we lost this practice and only recently has it come back thanks to a better understanding of nutritional science and root causes to health imbalances.
Although one should avoid everything in moderation mentality, healthy eating is not all or nothing. The feeling of being limited is a perception, transitioning from one way of thinking and eating is never easy and should be done in baby steps ideally with the support of someone with a solid nutritional background. Once you start embracing this transition and thinking outside the box it will become evident that there are way more options out there then not and the few food items that you miss can still be enjoyed during your during celebrations, special occasions, and living moments within reason.
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHN, CHC owner or From the Roots Holistic,
Often individuals assume that seeing a Nutritionist is going into an office and walking out with this magical meal plan that will mystically make them reach their goals, I suspect this perception comes from all the diet trends.
In reality, very few people need or should use a meal plan, and when they are needed they need to be carefully formulated based on the individual’s unique needs. Generic meal plans which can be found everywhere may be poorly constructed, lack the individual's unique needs, may lead to nutritional and health imbalances, as well as turn people off from using nutrition to help them reach their goals. Clearly I am not a fan of generic meal plans other than being used as an educational tool when provided by a nutritionist or dietician (someone with formal nutritional education).
What meal plans are great for?
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHC, CHN, CLE
Are you worried your children aren’t getting enough? Consider the following tips and I assure you they will!
Set an important foundation:
Fruits are an important source of vitamins, antioxidants, as well as fibre. Focus on whole fruits. Fruit juices should be avoided. Most antioxidants in fruits and veggies are bound to the fibre; remove the fibre and you are no longer getting the synergistic effect of the whole food, not to mention leaving behind lots of fructose. Look for locally grown and organic when possible. How much fruit? Surprisingly a small amount of fruit is all that is needed. There should always be more emphasis on vegetables. Two to three servings are all that is needed for most of us, including children.
Vegetables are an important source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Aim for getting most of your children’s servings from leafy greens. Look for locally grown and organic when possible. How much vegetables? Vegetables are important. Your little ones should be consuming double the number of veggies than fruit.
Legumes, nuts and proteins:
These foods are an important source of amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and fats. Only 10 per cent or less of calories should come from animal based proteins. (Eggs, fish, poultry, meat) Growing children need those amino acids, especially teens, so an even larger part of their portions should come from plant-based proteins with maybe a small portion of animal-based protein.
Grains are an important source of vitamins, minerals, fibre, amino acids, and energy. Aim for whole grains especially pseudo cereals such as quinoa and millet. Focus on rice (ditch the white rice and minute rice) and oats from the cereal grains. Limit processed grains (flours, baked goods and pasta) and focus on quality. Growing children need energy during their growing years The biggest mistake parents make is providing their children with too many processed grains as baked goods and pasta.
Calcium rich foods:
Your children can get plenty of calcium from the four food groups. Examples:
Fats are needed for the brain, for health and healing. Focus on whole food sources of fats found in the four food groups. Be sure your children are consuming enough Omega 3s. Oils are processed foods and should be limited and avoid heating non-saturated fat oils.
To be sure your children are getting enough, feed them a well-balanced range of whole foods, ditch the sugar and use caution and limit processed foods.
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHN, CHC owner or From the Roots Holistic
Published in the Alive + Fit Magazine, Spring 2017 page 28
Is this your typical morning? You’ve hit the snooze button several times and now you’re up and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. You grab your usual go-to breakfast: cereal, toast, bagel or muffin. Heck you may have even chosen sugar-free, gluten-free, or high fibre, but before lunch time you’re starving or out of energy or feeling tired in the afternoon. Why? Because your morning meal choices are causing you to crash.
Many North Americans choose refined foods as their first meal of the day. This sets us off on a poor start to our day because refined grains (flours) even those labelled whole grain (sorry whole grain is not flour… nope you lose out on vital synergistic effects – say goodbye to fibre, nutrients and phytochemicals.The worst of the culprits are the cereal grains, especially wheat. All you are left with is mostly starch, sugar starches – glucose.
Glucose is a sugar, and more than ever before research is showing sugar equals detrimental health effects. Our bodies need glucose to function efficiently, however, we can easily go overboard with the wrong choices and send our bodies and brains crashing, literally, if we’re not careful. Too much sugar, and in the wrong form, leads to inflammation and inflammation equals chronic disease, pain and obesity, all in a vicious cycle of addiction. We get that lovely high, we are happy, then we run out of that sweet glucose or it’s stored in our body and we crash. We feel tired and moody and look for the next high, which, sadly, is more sugar in the form of unhealthy food choices, or even worse, cigarettes or alcohol. Why would you want to do that to yourself?
To add to this, flours are not digested well, which can lead to gas and bloating. Let’s be realistic. Once grains are processed into flours, they are processed foods, processed grains/refined carbohydrates, no matter how they are labelled (wholegrain, multigrain) are all the same. Our bodies don’t recognize processed foods the same way as whole foods, so it’s easy to overindulge and overwhelm our bodies.
If you are going to eat something made of flour, choose healthier choices and limit them. Sprouted flours, although milled, are easier to digest and still contain a good number of nutrients, fibre and phytochemicals. Nut flours and pseudo cereal grain flours like quinoa and millet don’t have a hard-crash effect because of the proteins and fats. It’s best to mill these yourself to prevent the fats from going By Dana Clark, CNHP, CHN Cut the braindrain breakfast rancid and to prevent losing out on nutrients.
Whole grains (colourful rice, quinoa, oats that are not processed/milled into flours) are wonderful and important to our health. Please don’t be silly and ditch the grains - just eat them as whole foods and control those flour based foods. Whole grains are a wonderful source of fibre and resistant starches that regulate blood sugar levels as opposed to sugar starches that send them all over the place. They are a great source of nutrients and phytonutrients, including antioxidants.
Now that reality has set in, what to eat? Eat based on your lifestyle. If you are not going to be super busy till the afternoon, break your fast by starting off with some fruit, then work your way to a more nutrient-dense/caloric dense meal and eat it before you go into your busiest time of day.
If your morning is going to be intense, go for more traditional breakfast foods such as whole grains like oats, oat bran, quinoa and millet and make your own homemade hot cereal. Pump up your grains with some hemp hearts, ground chia or flax seeds and enjoy.
Eggs are also a nice treat, just don’t make it a daily indulgence. Eggs are a great source of protein, and local eggs from properly fed chickens are a great source of Omega 3, but don’t kid yourself, eating them daily is not good for you. Although cholesterol does not directly cause heart disease, high amounts, especially when combined with long-chain saturated fats, leads to inflammation in the body and this does increase your risk for heart disease and other chronic illness. As humans, we are designed to eat a balanced diet of various foods. Eating the same foods, especially one’s that are common allergens, puts us at risk of developing an immune response. Eggs are one of these foods, as is wheat. The inflammatory effect of this food makes us more vulnerable to this autoimmune response.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to rehydrate in the morning. A nice coffee/tea (not loaded with refined sugar) is fine, but stick to one. Too much caffeine has a crash effect as well (again, don’t do that to yourself).
Quit hitting that snooze button and get up and take charge of your day by starting off right by taking care of your needs in the form a whole foods breakfast that are appropriate for your needs.
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHN, CHC owner or From the Roots Holistic,
Published in the Alive + Fit Magazine, Spring 2017 page 4
Here are some tips so you don’t fall into the “weight gain” trend over the holidays.
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHN, CHC, CLE
Back to school! This time of year can be filled with a lot of joy coupled with a lot of anxiety for a number of reasons. One in particular that comes to mind: the dreaded school lunches!
As parents we need to remember the foods we pack in our children’s lunches can have a beneficial impact or a negative impact on their school day. Processed packaged foods, even the ones marketed as natural, healthy or sugar free, are predominantly unhealthy and can impact our children’s health, ability to focus and their behaviour which can also have a ripple effect on the other students in their class. By packing wholefoods, we are giving their bodies all they need to stay healthy and alert. Not to mention a lifelong impact of good nutritional values they can take on into adulthood.
Here are some wholefood school lunch idea’s:
MASON JAR SMOOTHIE
Replaces the unhealthy sugar laden chocolate milk some schools promote.
• 1/2 avocado
• 1 cup of pineapple chunks
• 1 cup of spinach
• Water to desired consistency
Blend in blender Pour into appropriate size mason jar for your child’s appetite and lunch
box size. Put in freezer overnight. Take out first thing when you get up and pack in your
child’s lunch bag so it thaws throughout the day so they can have it at their last nutritional
Picky eater’s can make any meal difficult. So be creative and get them involved, countless studies show that children who are involved with the food they consume are more likely to eat it or at least give it a try.
BENTO BOX FUN
This idea replaces the unhealthy luchables full of unhealthy sugars, fats and questionable additives.
Purchase a bento box style lunch container. Go back to the basics. It’s quick easy and healthy. Fill with
fruit, veggies and hummus or healthy homemade dip.
SPRING ROLL WRAPS
• Rice wraps
• Minced, grated or spiralized,vegetables your picky eater enjoys, tolerates or thinks is fun to work
• Drained and pressed tofu cut into thin strips or baked chicken/turkey cut into thin strips
• ¼ cup tamari sauce
• 1 tbsp sesame oil
• 1 tsp maple syrup
See rice wrap package for rehydration instructions. Have your child stuff his/her wraps with the veggies and tofu/chicken/turkey Wrap up the ingredients and bake in the oven at about 400 degrees F, turning often
to avoid having the wraps stick to the pan (be sure to use parchment paper) bake until firm.
Mix the tamari, sesame oil and maple syrup and pack in a container for dipping.
LEMON DILL BEAN SALAD
Save time by meal planning for the week and considering your children’s lunches. Make hearty wholefood
soups, bean salads, rice casseroles and other healthy family favorites. Make lots for lunches the next day.
• 1 cup of chickpeas
• 1 cup lima beans
• 1 cup black beans
• 1 cup peas
• ¼ freshly squeezed lemon juice
• ¼ organic sunflower oil
• 2 tbsp. dried dill weed or 4 tbsp. fresh dill weed
• Sea salt and pepper to taste
Toss the beans together and mix in the lemon juice, sunflower oil, dill, salt & pepper. Refrigerate for one to two hours before serving. Serve over a bed of leafy greens or toss into containers for lunch the next day.
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHN, CHC owner or From the Roots Holistic, Certified Holistic Nutritionist at SBJJ & Muay Thai Academy.
Published in the Alive + Fit Magazine Fall 2016 page 30.
When a child is one-years-old many moms that are returning to work will opt to wean their little one at this point or sooner, although this is not necessary. Little ones this age don’t need to nurse as frequently and can consume water or pumped breast milk during the day and nurse when mom comes home. Mom has the legal right to pump during work a few times to keep up her milk supply or to relieve discomfort. Some mothers choose to wean due to our culture having a difficult time with the concept of a little one who is walking & talking, nursing. I assure you nursing at this age is very healthy and natural, and what their little bodies still require. Human baby led weaning age is between the ages of 2 and 4 years old in developed countries that have access to healthy foods and water. In countries where access to healthy food and clean water is an issue, children will instinctively nurse until they are 7 years of age, if not longer. The World Health Organization and Unicef recommend breastfeeding until 2 years of age and beyond.
For Moms that are not full term nursing, introducing an alternative is required till about 4 years of age after that it’s discretional, like all other mammals on this planet we do not require breastmilk or an alternative past weaning. The recommended alternatives are full fat unsweetened soy milk & homo milk, almond milk is not recommended as it is not fortified by government standards however more and more companies are fortifying almond milk now (when using plant based milks always look for unsweetened). Rice and coconut milk are not recommended as an alternative as they are not fortified and do not meet the nutritional requirements of your little one. However coconut milk can be added to fatten up soy milk & almond as it can they are naturally lower in fat and fat is important for brain development. Homo milk or milk from ruminant animals does come with risk but due to food politics will not be removed from many food guides and recommended lists. These risks include an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer, especially prostate cancer, autoimmune disorders & hormone imbalances. Milk is species specific, as are the benefits, nutrients & digestibility human milk is designed for proper development of human infants, cows milk for calves....
There is a lot of controversy with soy; however, the actual studies on soy show that it is safe. You do want to use precautions as some forms are not healthy, such as non-organic, gmo soy and soy protein isolates. Here is a link to a well thought out and researched article that falls in line with my nutritional education and research on the subject Being Vegan and Eating Soy: Myths, Truths, and Everything in Between.
Here is ideally what you want to be feeding your little one:
To drink focus on water, followed by some breast milk/milk alternative, slowly increasing water so that by 4 years of age or so they are drinking 90% water.
Don’t forget to add in a quality multivitamin/mineral supplement. Everyone over 1 year of age should be adding a good quality multi vitamin/mineral supplement to their diet with the exception of those who eat a perfectly well-balanced diet of 100% locally grown/raised organic food, who exercises regularly and do not have stress in their lives. For children, a liquid supplement with no sugar/aspartame or additives is best. Stay away from candy like formulas for children as most of them are full of junk. If your child is no longer breastfeeding I recommend a DHA supplement & probiotic. Be cautious when using various supplements and seek the guidance of a qualified health practitioner with a nutritional background, you can cause serious harm or worse when exceeding dietary recommendations for vitamins and minerals.
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHN, CHC owner or From the Roots Holistic, Certified Holistic Nutritionist at SBJJ & Muay Thai Academy.
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