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Nutrition at the speed of life – how you eat is as important as what you eat Print

By Andrea Holwegner, For The Calgary Herald  June 2, 2011

Years ago, my friend Dominique was in France when the first Starbucks coffee shop was established. The French were used to small family-run cafes where the purpose of having a coffee was to sit down and enjoy the taste and experience of the brew and the company you were with.

The concept of a stainless steel “to-go” mug or paper cup you left the store with was a foreign concept that took a while to catch on. Coffee wasn’t intended to caffeinate a tired body to get through a stressful day, as it has become for many North Americans, but instead was a ritual for savouring something enjoyable, relaxing and reading the newspaper, or socializing with a friend.

Just as the French have traditionally enjoyed espresso sipped slowly in a cafe, in the vast majority of cultures across the planet, eating is a sacred event.

Acquiring, preparing, cooking and savouring food is not a chore for many cultures but a valued part of the day.

How you eat is absolutely as important as what you eat. Here are some tips that will not only improve your health, but also your relationship and satisfaction with food.

Make it a lifestyle change

The word diet in Latin means “a way of life,” yet for most North Americans the word has connotations that include deprivation, guilt and hard work. If you are like many North American families, you may work long hours and have a hectic evening schedule of hobbies or sports. With the invention of the microwave, convenience foods and fast food, marketers are working hard to convince you that time to cook is time wasted.

You are kidding yourself if you think that a pre-packaged frozen entree or meal replacement bar has the same level of enjoyment (and nutrition) as a home-cooked meal.

There is a difference in satisfaction with food if you cook it yourself and see it, smell it, feel it and slowly taste it, versus ripping open a package. When you rush through the experience and fail to use all your senses, you are more likely to feel dissatisfied and overeat.

Eat together

In a 2006 Time magazine article, The Magic of the Family Meal, by Nancy Gibbs, I read a quote I will never forget. Anthropologist Robin Fox said, “We have reduced eating to sitting alone and shovelling it in. There is no ceremony in it.”

Most people eat better when they eat together. Research shows sitting down for a family meal is not only good for your nutrition but is one way to protect your kids from obesity, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse and more. If you live alone and feel like cooking for one is a chore, be sure to co-ordinate some social meals.

At work, be a leader and encourage people to leave their desks and join you for lunch. Organizations that eat breakfast or lunch together regularly have been shown to improve team cohesion and productivity since they return to work less distracted, having had time to socialize.

Fully engage in eating

Just because you could eat your lunch at your desk while you are on the computer doesn’t mean you should. If your health and weight are off track, are you multi-tasking something while eating?

Maybe you can relate to my experience of gobbling up a giant bowl of popcorn after a stressful day while watching television, and being surprised to hit the end of the bowl without being able to account for the taste and enjoyment of the snack.

While I find it hard to eat away from all distractions, I challenge you to become more aware.

Pay close attention, especially at times of the day when you find it hard to manage portion control or when you are prone to emotional eating. At these times, make a firm rule that when you are eating, only eat. No reading, television or computer for distraction.

Also be sure to savour the first bite. Economists use a term called the law of diminishing marginal utility. When applied to food, this can be summarized as the first bite of food tasting the best. Bites of food that follow will be progressively lower in enjoyment and taste.

Watch the difference in satisfaction and pleasure when you allow yourself the time and opportunity to fully engage in the art of eating.

Andrea Holwegner, the chocoholic dietitian, owns Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. Visit www.healthstandnutrition.com or phone 403-262-3466  for more information on personalized nutrition counselling, professional speaking and to subscribe to her blog or free monthly ezine.

Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/health/Nutrition+speed+life/4878894/story.html#ixzz1OMm1pOKW

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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