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Happy New Year!

With a new year comes new resolutions to better ourself in some way. For many us, these goals centre around diet and lifestyle in order to lose weight, combat existing health concerns, or prevent disease from arising in the future.

However, due to living in a world where we are saturated every day with news on the newest fad diet, I find that there is often a disconnect between what is dieting and what is healthy eating. I see so many of my patients skipping meals, restricting calories, consuming “diet” foods and snacking throughout the day in lieu of eating real meals.

With so much opposing information, it is hard to know what to eat to stay healthy. To address this, I created a week-long series on my facebook page called the New Years Diet Reboot. For those of you who missed the information, here is the summary!

Tip #1: Say goodbye to soda (yes, even the diet varieties). High sugar beverages cause insulin spikes that cause us to gain weight and also promotes diabetes. Diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners which have been linked to compulsive eating and a multitude of side effects. This Huffington Post article outlines 5 reasons why this should be the year that you give up soda for good!

Tip #2: Aim to eat at least four cups of low carb veggies per day. These vegetables should take up over half of your plate at each meal! Use vegetables of all colours to up your intake of health-promoting vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber!

Eat lesser amounts of higher carb vegetables such as: artichokes, carrots, parsnips, green peas, squash, potatoes, and yams.

If you need some inspiration on ways to incorporate more vegetables into your diet, here are some delicious recipes to get you started.

Low carb vegetables include: asparagus, string beans, bean sprouts, beets, beet greens, bok choy, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, red and green cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chives, Swiss chard, collards, cucumber, endive, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard and dandelion greens, onion, parsley, red peppers, pumpkin, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, turnips, watercress, & zucchini.

Tip #3: Fall back in love with fat. Historically, many diet plans included cutting back on fat consumption. These diets have been shown time and time again to not work but there is still a wide-spread fat phobia.The fact is, fat is a nutrient and our body needs it to thrive. When we deprive our body of healthy fats such as those found in nuts, seeds, fatty fish, avocado and olive oil, we get cravings for fatty foods that we often satisfy with foods that aren’t as nutritious such as chips and donuts. After the binge, our body is still deprived of what it was really craving, so the binging continues. The key to kicking the cravings is to incorporate healthy fats into your daily diet. As an added bonus, fish oils and coconut oil can actually boost the metabolism of some individuals! The second reason I don’t like low-fat food alternatives is that when the fat is removed from a food, it doesn’t taste very good so the manufacturers are often loading up these foods with lots of sugar and salt to make them palatable. Sugar is one of the things that I believe almost everyone can do with less of. So, stop being afraid of fats and indulge in the richness of an avocado or a handful of almonds today!

Tip #4: Eat three meals per day and NEVER skip a meal, especially breakfast. Breakfast is the only meal that actually speeds up our metabolism. When we skip breakfast, our metabolism automatically slows down and induces afternoon and evening cravings.

Tip #5: Let’s talk about sugar! Canadians, on average, consume roughly 110 grams of sugar a day (roughly equivalent to 41 tsp). It is abundantly added to many foods in our grocery stores such as condiments, sauces, and soups. Sugar consumption has been associated with many diseases, most notably diabetes and obesity. Less well known chronic diseases that are linked to sugar consumption include heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. So how much should you eat? The American Heart Association recommends that women limit themselves to 6 tsp (24 grams) and men to 9 tsp (36 grams) a day max!

Start the day off right with my current favourite breakfast dish that can be prepared the evening before. Combine the following in a bowl and enjoy!

  • 1/2 cup cooked tri-colour quinoa
  • 1/3 cup Liberté coconut yogurt
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp slivered almonds
  • 1/2 apple, chopped
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

Tip #6: Our body needs protein to thrive. However, many people are not getting enough! As a general rule of thumb, aim to get roughly 1 gram of protein for every kg of body weight per day. The amino acids that make up protein are used in our body to make neurotransmitters that are essential for mental health as well as the enzymes that our body uses to function. If we don’t consume enough protein, we can feel fatigued and depressed.How much protein are you eating each day? Make sure it’s enough!

Tip #7: Determine if you have any food sensitivities and stay away from those foods! When our body’s are sensitive to particular food items, eating them can result in inflammation throughout the body. The resulting symptoms range from headaches to IBS-like symptoms to skin rashes and acne as well as joint pain and fatigue. I have found that people often notice dramatic changes when they rid their body of this inflammation through dietary changes alone! Talk to your naturopath if you are interested in food sensitivity testing to determine if what you are eating is making you feel crummy!

I hope you enjoyed the New Year’s Diet Reboot series. Make this the year that you get your diet on track to ensure a healthy future!

In health,

Dr. Nicole Hartman

About Dr. Nicole Hartman

Dr. Nicole Hartman is a naturopathic physician, a world traveler, a hiker, and a blogger. She focuses her practice in digestion, women's health and weight loss and takes an integrative, evidence-based approach to healthcare.