Resolve your resolutions
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By Andrea Holwegner RD, Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. – for CBC.ca

Shifting your thoughts on nutrition for 2008/h3>

Forty to 45 per cent of adults make one or more resolutions each year. We have good intentions but we often find that our focus fades quickly. Before you set your 2008 nutrition resolutions, here are some things to consider.

Eat Simply

The single most important thing you can do to kick-start your health for 2008 is to eat real food. Real food is the stuff that grows in the ground, is picked off a tree, or does not come in a package with a list of 30 ingredients with words you can’t pronounce.

As a general rule of thumb, the shorter and more recognizable the ingredients list is on a label, the better.

It is estimated that there are more than 20,000 new packaged food and beverages released into the marketplace each year. We keep buying into the marketing of highly processed packaged foods and are getting more fat, sugar, sodium, and preservatives as a result.

What we really need to do is reconnect with the foods of the past. Rather than another protein bar, meal replacement shake or frozen entrée, stick to the basics and go for real food.

Top choices to fill the bulk of your diet are foods on the periphery of the grocery store such as fruits, veggies, breads, dairy, meat, seafood, poultry and eggs. Other top choices include legumes, pasta, rice, hot cereal, nuts/seeds, and vegetable oils. It’s that simple.

Ditch the Cooking Channel

While gourmet cooking shows on television have grown in popularity I often wonder if they don’t intimidate most of us that are not master chefs. I personally have never used a “fiddlehead fern” or don’t even know where to buy “achiote seeds” used in a recent cooking show. I also know that I don’t have time to go to two or three grocery stores to get the ingredients I need for the week.

If you are like me, consider getting over gourmet and realize you don’t have to be a chef to eat healthy. In fact you don’t even need recipe books to get it right. The key is to just make sure you build balanced meals.

A balanced meal consists of three things: a grain/starch; veggies and/or fruits; and a source of protein. This might mean your appetizer is a bowl of raw carrots and the main course is a whole grain wrap spread with peanut or almond butter rolled around a banana.

Another example of a balanced meal might be a salad, scrambled eggs, leftover rice and frozen steamed veggies. While this supper may horrify a food connoisseur, it’s a good place to start for boosting health.

Tune in & Listen to the Best Expert

The best expert on you is you yourself. Your body won’t let you down if you truly tune in and listen to the messages it is sending you. Catch yourself squeezing in the last few bites to “finish your plate.”

Be aware when you are stuffing feelings of loneliness and anger with a large bag of potato chips. Realize when you have starved your body of nourishment and pleasure by skipping meals and restricting foods you like in an attempt to lose weight.

If we stopped and listened to our body we would notice that running through the day on coffee with no food or gorging mindlessly on fast food in our car just doesn’t feel right. All of these are examples of not trusting your own intuition. One size does not fit all when it comes to your nutrition plan. Some people do better eating just three large meals a day while others do better eating six mini-meals a day.

Choose not to follow regimented eating plans and diet books that suggest you need to eat every two hours or stop eating after 7 p.m. While this can work for some people, there are thousands of ways to eat healthy.

Remember that a healthy diet based on decades of scientific research has determined that we should choose 45 to 65 per cent of our calories from carbohydrates, 10 to 35 per cent from protein, and 20 to 35 per cent from fat. What this means is that there are many ways to go about achieving a healthy diet. Tune in to your body and trust it.

Eat Better Instead of Eat Right

My personal mantra is “bite-sized changes for supersized results.” You don’t need to be a perfect eater; small shifts in your habits really do make a difference. If you think about the fact that there are 21 meals in the week, if a couple of them are not perfect, you will still score 90 per cent on your diet. Ironically, we often dwell on what didn’t go just right.

Get over getting it right and move to a philosophy of eating just a little bit better. The nice thing about this approach is that you will actually be able to stick to the changes for good. The challenge is that progress is slower and it requires a bit of patience in a society that wants to see instant gratification.

Rather than attempting an extreme makeover of your diet, think about three things you could work on that will challenge you to succeed rather than fail.

Don’t know where to start? Keep a journal for a few days and you will likely see some areas you need to work on. If you have been a breakfast skipper for most of your life, aim to have three breakfasts next week. If the only time you ever eat veggies is at supper, resolve to have veggies four times in your lunch next week. If you currently drink two cans of pop a day, aim for one a day. These bite-sized changes add up over time.

Whatever resolution you decide to set, one thing is certain. If you explicitly write down your resolutions you are 10 times more likely to be successful than if you didn’t make a resolution at all. Cheers for a healthy 2008.

Andrea Holwegner — the Chocoholic Dietitian — is a registered dietitian and founder and president of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting in Calgary.

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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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