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Nutrition Matters: 3 Easy Steps to Boost Your Health (& Brain Power)

Posted by Matthew Turton on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 @ 10:06 AM

Challenge: Cut out the “bad” from your diet

Confession time: I hate vegetables. There, I said it. I can hear my mother cringing in the background. Hate might be a strong word so I’ll dial it back to strongly dislike (except for peas and corn which are not the best vegetables anyways) So, recently in my quest for improved health I started doing veggie/fruit smoothies in the morning before work. I’ll let our guest blogger Juliana Leamen BSc, MSc, NWS a Certified Nutrition & Wellness Specialist explain further, she’ll wow you with how good they are for you and why. I’ve increased my vegetable intake several hundred percent with minimal effort and my son begs to try it each day. When’s the last time your child begged for vegetables? Here's Juliana to save me from myself!

How to shop healthyHave you ever wondered why essentials such as milk and eggs are usually hiding at the back of your grocery store? Yes… so you will have to pass by the candy, soda and chips before making it to your destination. That is how we arrive home with a new bag of flavored chips, and realize we forgot the milk! One of my favorite blog posts of 2012 was on ways to break bad habits  – “Keep your kitchen junk-free”. One of the ways to accomplish that and avoid such temptations and prevent them for making their way into your house, is to avoid passing by them while shopping for your groceries. Out of sight, out of mind! My husband and I usually pick the pet food aisle (of course!) to cut thru the store and make it safely to the exit. Rule of thumb, shop the perimeter of the store and avoid most of the middle aisles where all the “other stuff” can be found.

I realize that cutting things out of our diets can be quite difficult, especially when we don’t fully understand why we should. There are many contradictory studies out there, so my job today is to show you why some things, like soda and bad fats, pose health risks, and to help empower you to make better choices.

Sodas in general account for a very large percentage of people’s sugar intake and many contain bad types of sugar, like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). The problem with these simple sugars is that they get easily absorbed by our bodies, causing spikes in blood sugar levels. Such spikes have been associated with diabetes and excess weight. Plus, sodas contain nearly no nutritional value, but lots of calories, what I like to call “empty calories” that love to gather in our waistline.

“Sugary soft drinks don’t contain any fat—yet the billions of gallons of sugary beverages that Americans drink each year have been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic.”

Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard School of Public Health

I am married to a brilliant business man who over the years has taught me many valuable lessons. One I often recall is the ROI (return on investment) rule. So now I often stop to think, “What am I really getting from drinking this cold glass of soda on a hot day?” A few seconds of enjoyment, I say. “And what is my “investment”? Over 40 grams of very simple sugars in one little can (did you know that?! Almost 10 teaspoons!) and sometimes radioactively looking artificial colours, says the logical side of my brain. So now I ask you, is the reward worth its investment? I will have to say, unfortunately not.

But taking something out is not enough. We need to replace it with something to make sure we can stick to the new routine. Since I like carbonated drinks, I replaced soda with carbonated water (not coloured nor flavoured!) and I add a fresh slice of lemon and some chopped ginger. Simply divine!

How to make a healthy pop alternativeAnother great option is a good cup of tea. There are hundreds of possibilities in the tea world these days and a properly brewed cup of tea can go a long way. My favorite is a Fair Trade Organic Certified Mint Green Tea. When drinking more delicate teas I let the water cool for a couple of minutes after boiling before steeping. I also like some teas cold (not all, don’t get me wrong!). Cold herbal teas can be a great substitute for soft drinks, you can even add a little bit of agave nectar for a low-glycemic sweet taste. But don’t get fooled, many bottled iced-teas in the market are as bad as pop when it comes to too much sugar and high calories, so I always make my own. But my number one choice that I honestly cannot live without are my green juices.

green juices good healthThat’s why I have a full page dedicated to it, called Juice it! I’ve been juicing for quite some time and I’ve converted many people! All you need to do is give it a try. For some people the concept of drinking your vegetables is quite strange, but trust me, you will be surprised! I cannot stress how much I love it! Just make sure to wash your produce very well! If completely taking soda out of your diet sounds like too much, look for natural sodas that contain no caffeine and no HFCS (they are usually sweetened with sugar cane), as a starting point and make sure to at least significantly decrease the amount you consume. A small step is better than no step at all!


juliana leamen picture for brochure resized 600

FeedRight Nutrition

Juliana Leamen BSc, MSc, NWS

Certified Nutrition & Wellness Specialist

As a Nutrition and Wellness Specialist, Juliana dedicates her time to writing for her food blog and helping people looking for better health and natural weight loss programs. She is passionate about local foods, organic products and supporting farming communities. Juliana is available for workshops and consultations and can be reached at

Topics: parenting, Brain food

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