“My feet is my only carriage.” – Bob Marley
As I’m sure you are aware, movement, of any form, can positively impact our overall health and well-being, in many ways. Walking, for example, even if performed for only a few moments at a time, especially when practiced regularly, can improve our physiology, on several levels. How do you incorporate movement into your day?
Unfortunately however, with the conveniences of modern life, combined with the demands often associated with work, we spend a significant amount of time in a stationary, seated position. As you’ve probably heard before, and as the literature suggests, sitting can negatively impact our health in many ways. One aspect of our physiology affected by sitting, is our posture. Often, chronic sitting can contribute to a sway-back posture (or hunchback posture), evident by a forward head tilt and flexed upper spine. For some, this can lead to tightness and tension in the neck, upper back, shoulders, lower back, hips, or all of the above.
Combined with regular bouts of movement, I have found the three exercises outlined in the video below, to be very beneficial in improving my overall posture, as well as relieving some of the stress and tension I was experiencing through my upper shoulders:
(click on the image to be directed to the YouTube video)
And while I’m on the topic, here are a few of my other favourite quotes from Bob Marley:
“Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.”
“Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny.”
“Love the life you live, live the life you love.”
“You, yourself, as much as any body in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha
Taking the time to reflect, to listen to your body, your mind, your spirit, to understand and honour your needs and preferences, to care for your own well-being…
The literature suggests, and it is my experience, that individuals who work in helping professions, such as those in health care, will often neglect self-care. How can we expect to care for others, our family, our friends and our patients, if we are not tending to ourselves!?
Spring is in the air in Toronto. What better time to establish, or re-establish, the practices that bring you joy, energy and fulfillment. Self-care is not about being selfish, it is about putting ourselves first once in a while, so that we can be happy and healthy, and ultimately give more to the world around us.
Below are articles and resources that I have discovered that speak to the significance of, and strategies for, practicing self-care:
Why Self-Care Is So Important – An in-depth article from lifehacker that provides several scientifically supported strategies for improving self-care.
Your Ultimate Self-Care Assessment (with resources!) – An extensive list of categorized self-care questions and resources, from Psychology Today.
Transforming Compassion Fatigue into Compassion Satisfaction: Top 12 Self-Care Tips for Helpers – Self-care strategies, specifically for those in helping professions, from Compassion Fatigue Solutions.
45 Simple Self-Care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul – A unique list of accessible ideas for practicing self-care, including play.
UHN Wellness My Time VIP Membership – An opportunity for UHN employees to access and utilize Wellness spaces and resources, 24/7.
Take care. You deserve it.
Lack of time, eating out, holidays, stress? We all have challenges that can sidetrack our healthy eating plans. Here are some strategies to help your small changes stick.
> Planning how you’ll manage healthy-eating roadblocks before they happen is key to success.
Setbacks on a journey to healthier habits are a normal part of making changes. Knowing what some of your challenges are can help you be ready to deal with them. Get ready with a plan to manage detours:
Think about what might get in your way of healthy eating.
Brainstorm solutions to get around roadblocks.
Put supportive strategies in place. Recruit family and friends to help on your path to a healthy you.
A slip in healthy eating habits is a learning opportunity. When it happens, review your plan, adjust as needed and get back on track.
For help staying motivated, get eaTracker at: http://www.eatracker.ca
> Short on time? Be prepared with nourishing grab ‘n’ go foods, like yogurt, nuts and fruit.
Eating well doesn’t need to take a lot of time. A little planning helps you eat healthy, even on the run:
Stock your kitchen with good-for-you snacks, like veggies, fruit, yogurt, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, seeds and whole grain crackers.
Cook big batches of soup, stew or chili on weekends, then take a welcome cooking break on busy weekdays.
Cook once. Eat twice. Make more food than you need for one meal and reinvent it for another.
Shop for healthier convenience foods, such as frozen or pre-cut vegetables, plain frozen fish fillets, shredded cheese and canned lentils.
For more time-saving tips, visit:
> Stressed? Bored? Sad? Eating for reasons other than hunger can lead to mindless munching.
Do you ever find yourself eating, even when you’re not hungry? Do you eat when you are bored or distracted, like when watching TV? Do you eat to deal with stress or emotions? If so, you may be eating more than you think.
If you’re a mindless muncher, try putting these savvy strategies in place:
Reduce boredom, sadness or stress by taking a brisk walk instead of nibbling.
Eat mindfully. Don’t eat distracted. Make mealtimes screen-free, eat away from your desk and don’t snack while watching TV.
For tips to beat stress without food, visit:
BONUS: DIETITIAN PRO TIPS
Check out these dietitian-designed strategies to help you address lifestyle challenges:
Party time! Eat a snack before you go. You’ll be less likely to overindulge when you arrive.
Travelling? Pack healthy snacks so you don’t have to buy food at the airport, train station or roadside stop.
Bring your own snacks to meetings or conferences: pack fruit, veggies and small portions of trail mix so you can skip the treat table.
Opt out of Friday fast-food lunches at work. Brown bag it, then walk ’n’ talk after you eat.
Family feast? Eat slowly. Savour each bite. Stop when you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
Make the most of leftovers. Turn Tuesday’s leftover lentil chili into Wednesday’s vegetarian burritos.
No time for breakfast? Make extra whole grain muffins, pancakes and waffles to freeze for a quick ’n’ tasty breakfast on a busy weekday morning.
Think healthy eating is bland? No way! Healthy eating tastes great! Keep it interesting: get creative with cooking strategies, experiment with new foods and flavours and refresh your recipes.
Hello tastebuds! Get ready to tingle! It’s time to try something new.
Want to try new foods but not sure where to start? These tasty ideas are sure to tempt you:
• Toss slivers of raw purple beets, green pears, feta and flax in a lemony vinaigrette for a salad that’s bursting with colour and crunch.
• Squeeze lime juice onto grilled pineapple for a naturally sweet dessert.
• Make mushroom risotto with toasted barley and low-sodium broth, and then sprinkle with Parmesan for a flavour-filled side dish.
• Sauté apples in a little butter, dust with cinnamon and top with toasted oats, crumbled walnuts and creamy yogurt for a superb Sunday breakfast.
Instead of take out tonight, make your own quick and tasty meals.
Relying on take out? Does your mealtime routine need reviving? Skip take out and bring back kitchen fun by switching up how you cook and serve supper.
• Cook create-it-yourself meals with your kids. Try a family taco, fajita, salad bar. With everyone helping, meal prep is easy.
• Make your own pizzas in minutes. Top whole grain flat breads with tomato sauce, flavourful cheese and leftover roasted veggies. Yum!
• Sandwiches for supper? Sure! Use whole grain buns, hummus or leftover roasted chicken or beef and a slice of cheese and then pile on the veggies.
Spice is nice! New flavour combos can kick up the taste in your usual fare.
Give new life to a favourite food! Experiment with these mouth-watering flavour boosters:
• Red pepper flakes deliver delicious heat to lightly sautéed fresh or frozen greens.
• Grainy mustard and lemon adds tangy freshness to fish, like cod.
• A dash of nutmeg is neat on carrots, butternut squash and parsnips.
• Curry livens up lentil soup and makes a tofu-and-veggie stir-fry sizzle.
• Cinnamon pairs sweetly with apples, pears and sweet potatoes.
BONUS: DIETITIAN PRO TIPS
Dietitians love experimenting with new ways to enjoy healthy foods. Try their tasty tips:
• Boost protein and fibre in berry smoothies by adding cooked red lentils.
• Sprinkle baby spinach or arugula with fresh lemon juice, a little olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and Parmesan cheese for a simply delicious side salad.
• Snack on a small portion of cooked barley mixed with defrosted frozen blueberries, flax seeds and a hint of maple syrup.
Source: Dietitians of Canada
When it comes to healthy eating, how much you eat can be just as important as what you eat. Eating portions that are too big can lead to overeating and weight gain. Follow these tips to manage the munchies while enjoying realistic portions.
> Give yourself a hand! Size up your portions with handy estimates.
Wondering if you’re eating too much or too little? Use your hand and try these estimates on for size:
1 cup of leafy green veggies or 1 whole piece of fruit = 1 fist
Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables = ½ fist
1 slice of bread or ½ bagel = 1 hand
1 cup of milk or ¾ cup of yogurt = 1 fist
50 grams of cheese = 2 thumbs
Serving of chicken = palm of hand
¾ cup of pulses (e.g. lentils, black beans, chick peas) = 1 fist
For more handy serving sizes, visit: http://www.eatrightontario.ca/handyguide/
> Size counts! Package, plate and portion sizes can influence how much you eat.
Larger portions, huge packages and bigger plates and bowls can all cause overeating. Set your table for portion-size success with these tips:
Use smaller, lunch-sized plates and bowls for meals. You’ll eat less but still feel satisfied.
Serve food, or have family members serve themselves, from the counter or the stove.
Keep serving dishes of vegetables on the table. If you’re still hungry, eat second portions of veggies.
Put large glasses of water on the table. You might even drink more water.
For more on plate size, watch this:
> Manage munchies! Keep treat-type snack foods out of sight so you’ll be less likely to nibble.
Studies show, you are more likely to choose available, easily reached foods. Try these tips to make healthy choices easier:
Keep nourishing snacks (e.g. hardboiled eggs, cut up veggies, yogurt, nuts, whole grain crackers) on an eye-level shelf in the fridge or cupboards so something healthy is the first thing you see.
Put high-fat, high-sugar treats, such as cookies, into non-transparent containers at the back of the fridge or cupboard so they’re out of sight.
Clear kitchen counters of all food except for a bowl of fresh fruit for crunchy snacking.
To check if your home is set up to make healthy choices easy, visit:
> Buy in bulk without bulking up! Use small reusable containers to repackage foods into right-sized portions.
Big packages and bulk items can be budget-friendly but a portion pitfall! The bigger the package, the more you’re likely to eat. Repackage foods into realistic portions, and try these tips:
Avoid buying club-size packages. Stockpiling big amounts of food can cause you to eat more.
Share buy-one-get-one deals with a friend to get the savings without extra food.
Put a snack portion into a small bowl instead of eating from the package. Eating from the package can lead to overeating.
For more tips to prioritize portion size, watch this:
> Fuel up! For long-lasting satisfaction, eat fibre- and protein-rich foods.
Finding yourself hungry too soon after eating meals or snacks? You might need to add more fibre- and protein-rich foods to your meals. Fibre helps fill you up and protein helps your energy last longer. Together, they deliver meal and snack satisfaction.
Fibre up. Choose more vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains (e.g. barley or oatmeal), ground flax, nuts and seeds, and pulses (e.g. lentils, black beans, chickpeas).
Put protein on your plate. Enjoy small portions of meat, fish, poultry or alternatives (eggs, pulses, tofu) and milk products.
For fantastic fibre-filled or protein-packed recipes, visit: http://www.cookspiration.com
BONUS: DIETITIAN PRO TIPS
Dietitians can help you manage your portion sizes and eat mindfully. Check out some of our favourite dietitian-designed tips:
Downsize big portions when eating out: split an entrée, skip appetizers or share dessert.
Enjoy lunch away from desktop distractions so you don’t overeat.
Turn off screens during meals so you are less likely to eat mindlessly long after you are satisfied.
Add chickpeas, tuna, lentils, edamame or seeds to leafy green salads for a simple protein- and fibre-filled lunch.
Slow down when you eat. Put your fork down in between bites.
Buy individually wrapped treats, such as small squares of dark chocolate, to help with portion control.
Make your own snack packs by filling reusable bags with nourishing foods like roasted chickpeas, whole-grain cereal or veggies and fruit.