The Perfect Diet

The perfect diet

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When people I don’t know find out what I do for a living, they’re naturally curious about my thoughts on diet and nutrition.

Which diet do I follow? Am I vegan? Vegetarian? Paleo? Do I eat gluten? What about dairy?

And the most popular…

What diet do I recommend my clients follow?

When it comes to this last question, I rarely ever have a simple, concise or neatly wrapped up answer because the truth is, it really depends.

Personally my own diet has evolved over the years as I’ve learned and discovered what works best for my body, largely through experimentation. Even though the specifics of what I eat may change on any given day, there are certain underlying principles that guide my choices. These mainly revolve around optimizing digestion and supporting my body’s natural detoxification capabilities (because what comes out is just as important as what goes in!).

I’m not a fan of diet labels (more on that here) and prefer to stick to my guns rather than follow any hard or fast rules. I view most nutritional approaches and diets as templates that need to be tweaked, tailored and adjusted based on the individual. And I’m very conscious of the fact that how I eat is just as important as what I eat.

I think it’s great when people can collect the golden nuggets from various nutritional approaches without having to necessarily adopt the whole approach in its entirety – and by the same token, not feeling the need to discredit an entire nutritional approach because they disagree with one aspect of it.

So then…what’s the best diet?

In my opinion, the best diets share the following themes:

  • They focus on food quality
  • They account for individuality (no all or nothing!)
  • They eliminate nutritional deficiencies
  • They focus on optimizing digestion while supporting detoxification
  • They control appetite and leave you feeling satiated
  • They’re sustainable over the long-run
  • They’re enjoyable and (of course) support your overall health

As you likely gathered, there’s not just one diet or approach that could potentially fit this bill!

So what type of diet do I recommend that my clients follow?

Well before making any recommendations or putting together a plan, here are the factors I first take into account:

  • Current health status
  • Health/diet history
  • Goals
  • Age/lifestage
  • Food sensitivities/and tolerance
  • Digestive capability
  • Nutrition knowledge
  • Food preferences
  • Work/Social schedule
  • Activity level
  • Cultural/religious traditions and beliefs
  • Budget and food availability

As you can clearly see there are many factors that come into play before I make recommendations. This is why I spend at least 90 minutes in the first session with new clients asking questions and really getting to know them before I customize a plan of action.

Just as there’s no one perfect diet for everybody, I think it’s also important to keep in mind that there are different nutrition approaches that can work for any one person at various points in their life depending on the factors mentioned above.

So as you can clearly see, when it comes to the best diet, it really does depend!

Much love,

Elaine

How to Break Out of Diet Prison

Break Free

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Are you still trying to figure out what type of diet works best for your body?

Does it ever feel like you’ve been on an endless pursuit of trying to figure out what you should be eating to look and feel your best?

Last week I was speaking with a new client for the first time and she said something that really struck a chord (p.s. she gave me permission to share this with you).

She told me that she felt like she wasted the better part of her life hung up on food and that she couldn’t believe that at her age (38) she still hadn’t figured out this whole “diet thing”. She was still struggling with the same health issues. She was starting to feel that the “healthy” diet she had been eating for the past 10 years was failing her, and to top it off she had completely lost her mojo for life.

I really felt this woman’s pain, but the truth is I’ve heard a similar version of this story countless times before.

I can’t help but compare it to being trapped in a prison. Diet prison.

The thing is most women don’t even realize that they’re living in one until suddenly…they’re not. And it’s not until after they’ve escaped from it that they can clearly look back and see they were even imprisoned in the first place.

So how do you break out of prison and figure out this whole “diet thing” once and for all?

While I don’t claim to have ALL the answers, there are definitely a few things I know to be true if you want to experience freedom in this area of your life.

If you’re struggling, feeling stuck or just ready to give up, here’s what you need to do to make your journey towards health more enjoyable and sustainable.

Consider these steps the foundation on which you’ll build upon later.

1. Remain Nutritionally Flexible. In other words don’t become too attached to any one nutritional approach. You don’t have to confine yourself to a diet label or squeeze yourself into anybody else’s nutrition box. Your nutritional needs are as unique as you are, and they’ll change throughout the course of your life based on lots of different factors, such as life stage, health status, and your activity level – just to name a few!

Experiment with any “style of eating” that’s in alignment with your beliefs or just feels intuitively correct for you, but know you are free to change course whenever you want (without shame or guilt) – particularly if it’s no longer serving your body best. Know that there is no ONE perfect diet for everyone (including you), so don’t get caught up in diet dogma or rigid belief systems that keep you blinded from seeing other nutritional truths.

2. Get Back-to-Basics. At some point there comes a time when you can’t help but feel overwhelmed and confused by all the conflicting health information touted by “experts”. When this happens (which it inevitably does) return to this simple but powerful truth:

Our bodies need natural, whole, minimally processed food that’s easy to digest and leaves us effortlessly and efficiently.

The rest is details. Experimentation. Trial and success.

Don’t get caught up in the notion that you need the latest superfood, powder, or other specialty food item to build a healthy body. Sure, they can add some fun and variety to your diet but don’t let them become a distraction or deter you from opting for more simple and “basic” options (i.e. fruits and veggies) if you can’t afford them – they’re not a requirement.

Furthermore, ditch the “I’m on a diet” mentality. You’re on this journey for the long haul. Focus on food quality and NOT numbers (i.e. stop counting calories), and for heaven’s sake please don’t turn your plate of food into a math equation.

3. Kick Your Food Addictions (Once and For All). It’s not easy being self-sovereign and making decisions for your highest good when you’re trapped in the vicious cycle of over consuming substances that compromise your health and leave you feeling lethargic and depressed.  Many people don’t even realize that they’re addicted until they try going without their “poison”.  The first step in this difficult process is just becoming aware of the substances that have a hold over you and leave you powerless.

For many people its refined sugar that runs their show. Whether it’s the muffin that calls out their name in line at Starbucks, the sugary coffee drink that gets them through the afternoon, or the bulk candy section at the grocery store they just can’t seem to resist. The more that’s consumed, the more your body craves it. Believe me, I know this firsthand!

But just ask anyone that’s cut out sugar for a few weeks. If you can just get past the initial discomfort of the first few days it usually gets easier there on in.  Not to mention the freedom you feel afterwards when you’re no longer a slave to it makes it well worth the initial effort. This isn’t to say that you’re never going to indulge or treat yourself again, but you probably won’t desire it in the same as you did before and you’ll be happier opting for quality over quantity.

There you have it.

Here’s to breaking out of diet prison!

xo Elaine

What do you think? As always, I love hearing from you so please share your thoughts in the comments below!

An Ode to Food Freedom

Do you ever write down and keep track of your daily food intake?

Back a little while ago, I found a scrap piece of paper tucked away in a stack of old papers in my desk drawer that had my hand-writing scrawled on it.

It read:

- Orange juice, apple cup.

- Baby carrots (handful), 1 small apple, little bit of salad (teeny bit).

That’s it.

Clearly the list was incomplete, not to mention unbalanced.

I can only imagine that based on what was listed I must have been starving by the afternoon and binged out on everything in sight throwing the list (figuratively speaking of course) out the window, which is why nothing else was recorded.

I don’t know what year it came from but it’s clearly from another time. What I do know is that I haven’t purchased store-bought orange juice or apple cups (apple sauce?) in years. My guess is that I wrote it sometime in my early twenties, but I honestly don’t know for sure; it may have been earlier.

It was clearly at a time in my life when I was heavily restricting. At these times I would make lists tracking everything I ate in hopes it would help me control my food intake.

I never stayed on the overly restrictive side of the pendulum for too long though before it swung back full speed to the other side. Riding the perpetual diet roller coaster and trapped in my own self-imposed prison.

At any rate, it brought up old memories of a time in my life where restriction, deprivation and guilt around food was the norm. I remember at times it was like living in hell–or as I now refer to it–diet prison.

My relationship with food and my body has changed drastically since those days. It honestly feels like an eternity ago.

Today I feel a sense of freedom around food and ease in the way I eat.

I naturally gravitate towards wholesome foods that I also derive pleasure from, that nourish my body because I highly value my health and vitality and prefer feeling my best–strong, energized, light, clear-minded, and with a calm belly.

But, I’ll also happily enjoy an almond croissant or ice cream from time to time without any feelings of shame or guilt, and, without throwing in the “proverbial towel” for the entire day or weekend, only to start “fresh again on Monday”.

I also no longer have weird obsessions or hang-ups around food (that often go hand-in-hand with an overly restrictive diet), so it doesn’t have the same strange-hold over me that it once did.

It’s occurred to me for some time that many women are trapped in diet prisons of their own. Sometimes by no choice of their own; other times willingly, even if they’re not aware of it.

I’ve consulted with enough women over the years to know that many of them have hang-ups around their body and food. And it’s not only women struggling to lose weight or overcome food addiction, but also those struggling with health problems of their own that may require a restrictive diet in order for them to heal. Then there are others who feel enslaved by the very same diet that once made them feel great but now is not working so well, and they’re left feeling confused yet determined to make it work. Really there are tons of reasons why someone might be trapped in a diet prison.

So where am I headed with all this?

Food Freedom

This is what I wish for all the women in my life.

Young and old; near and far.

Daughters, sisters, nieces, aunts and mothers.

Each and every woman who comes to work with me; short or long-term, and regardless of end-goal.

Whether they want to lose weight, heal their digestion, or balance their hormones.

I want each and every woman to walk away with a new-found sense of freedom around food;

To know how to nourish her body without feelings of restriction or deprivation.

This is what I wish for all women.

Food Freedom.

This is my ode to each and every one of you.

How does that sound? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Much more to come.

All love,
Elaine

The 4 Foods for Better Digestion

4 foods for better digestionToday I want to give you some quick and easy tips for supporting your digestion starting at your very next meal using foods you already have in your kitchen.

Okay you might not have all of them, but I know you likely have at least a few – and if you don’t, well you can easily and inexpensively pick up most of them at your local grocer.

I know sometimes it can be tempting to just pop a Tums when you’re experiencing tummy troubles or indigestion, but consider that you might already have just the remedy you need, albeit a natural one, hanging out in your cupboard just waiting to be discovered.

As Hippocrates, the Greek physician known as “the father of medicine” said:

~ Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food ~

The 4 Foods for Better Digestion

1. Bitter Greens such as arugula, kale, Swiss Chard, and dandelion are great additions to a starter salad at the beginning of your meal. Their bitter quality will stimulate the production of your body’s digestive secretions (saliva, pancreatic enzymes, bile) and prime your body to digest your food better. Plus it never hurts to get more alkalizing greens into your diet. My favorite go-to leafy salad green is baby arugula – I love its fresh and peppery taste!

2. Spices such as ginger, fennel, anise, caraway, cloves, and cinnamon all have a carminative action in the body – meaning they can relieve indigestion and help with bloating and gas. Add a pinch of cardamom to your smoothie, grated ginger to your salad dressing, or freshly ground cloves, cinnamon and anise seeds to your homemade chai tea. The sky’s the limit when it comes to the many ways you can spice up your diet and support your digestion.

3. Herbs such as chamomile, lemon balm, and peppermint are great for making tummy calming herbal infusions. I always have a stash of dried herbs on hand for this very reason. One combination I particularly enjoy is 1 tsp of chamomile + 1 tsp of lemon balm infused in a cup of boiled water and left to steep covered for 10 minutes. Both of these herbs have carminative actions so they’re really great at relieving indigestion. They both stimulate digestion as well (especially chamomile with its bitter quality) so can also be drunk before meals as a pre-dinner aperitif.  Also, their light sedative effect makes them relaxing and restorative for the nervous system – especially great when you have digestive upsets as a result of being anxious or stressed.

4. Fermented Foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, kefir and yogurt are all naturally-rich in probiotics – the healthy bacteria that helps our digestion function properly and supports our immune health. The flora in our gut is easily disturbed by the use of medications, especially antibiotics, poor diet, alcohol, smoking, and stress. Including fermented foods in our diet on a daily basis can markedly improve our gut health. When buying yogurt always opt for full-fat and unsweetened – as low-fat and flavoured varieties are always higher in sugar.

Have a favorite food or dish that supports your digestion? Share with me in the comments below.

Here’s to a healthy and happy gut!

Elaine