Part 1 of 4: How to recognize your food cravings?

Food cravings are normal and happen to the best of us. So, please do not blame yourself or feel guilty about them. Half the battle for a food craving is won if you are able to pinpoint what is going on.

In this weeks video I talk about how to recognize the food craving, how to figure out something is going on. Pay attention to what is going on so you can make some changes to get that craving under your belt.

Go ahead, watch the video and let me know what you think?


Now you have 2 tasks after viewing this video:

  1. Share with me and all of us about your technique to recognize a craving.
  2. Are you able to recognize that a food craving is on its way?

Post your comments in the comment box below.

Stay well!


9 ways to manage your carbohydrate intake when you have diabetes

9 ways to manage your carbohydrate intake when you have diabetes

What is diabetes?

Diabetes Canada (the new name for Canadian Diabetes Association) defines diabetes as  a chronic, often debilitating and sometimes fatal disease, in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage organs, blood vessels and nerves. The body needs insulin to use sugar as an energy source. In short when you are living with diabetes, you need to control your carbohydrate intake, since the major source of blood sugar in the body is carbohydrates.

Now, what are carbohydrates and how do they affect blood sugar? Carbohydrates make a large part of our daily meals. Foods such as breads, pasta, rice, beans, potatoes, cookies, crackers, soft drinks, pies, pastries and so on all contain carbohydrates. Carbohydrates come in a variety of forms the most common being:

  • Sugars
  • Fibers
  • Starches

Each one of these affect blood sugars differently. Let us see how.

Sugars: Sugar is a simple or a fast-acting carbohydrate. In simple words it means that sugars raise your blood sugars very quickly. You may want to view this video on “Blood sugar responses to various food groups” There are two main types of sugar:

  • Naturally occurring sugars such as those in milk or fruit
  • Added sugars such as those added during cooking and processing. Example in canned fruit in syrup, or in desserts, ice-cream, cookies, cakes etc

On a nutrition facts label, the number that you see for sugars includes both added and natural sugars. When reading nutrition labels look for names ending in “- ose”. That will tell you the particular ingredient is a sugar. For example glucose (also called dextrose), fructose (also called levulose), lactose and maltose. The chemical name for sugar is sucrose. Fruit sugar is fructose and the sugar in milk is lactose. Sugar also has several different names. For example include table sugar, brown sugar, molasses, honey, beet sugar, cane sugar, confectioner’s sugar, powdered sugar, raw sugar, turbinado, maple syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar and sugar cane syrup.

Fiber: Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods and comes from plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. When you eat dietary fiber, most of it passes through the intestines and is not digested. The increase in blood sugar for fibre containing foods is way slower than for foods that do not contain fibre. The fibre in the food slows down the increase in blood sugar, and that is what you need to manage your blood sugar and diabetes. Adults need to try to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day. Most adults do not consume nearly enough fiber in their diet. Most of us only get about half of this amount. It is a good idea to aim for this goal. Fiber also contributes to digestive health, helps to keep you regular, and helps to make you feel full and satisfied after eating. Fiber has been know to have benefit in reduction of cholesterol levels. Good sources of dietary fiber include:

  • Beans and legumes – black beans, kidney beans, pintos, chick peas (garbanzos), white beans, and lentils.
  • Fruits and vegetables, especially those with edible skin (for example, apples, corn and beans) and those with edible seeds (for example, berries).
  • Whole grains such as:
    • Whole wheat pasta
    • Whole grain cereals (Look for those with 3g of dietary fiber or more per serving, including those made from whole wheat, wheat bran, and oats.)
    • Whole grain breads (To be a good source of fiber, one slice of bread should have at least 3 grams of fiber. Another check point: look for breads where the first ingredient is a whole grain. For example, whole wheat or oats.) Many grain products now have “double fiber” with extra fiber added.
  • Nuts — try different kinds. Peanuts, walnuts and almonds are a good source of fiber and healthy fat, but watch portion sizes, because they also contain a lot of calories in a small amount.

In general, an excellent source of fiber contains five grams or more per serving, while a good source of fiber contains 2.5 – 4.9 grams per serving. It is best to get your fiber from food rather than taking a supplement. In addition to the fiber, these foods contain many important vitamins and minerals. It is also important that you increase your fiber intake gradually, to prevent stomach irritation, and that you increase your intake of water and other liquids, to prevent constipation.

Starches: The 3rd type of carbohydrate is starch. Foods that contain starches include:

  • Starchy vegetables like peas, corn, lima beans and potatoes
  • Dried beans, lentils and peas such as pinto beans, kidney beans, black eyed peas and split peas
  • Grains like oats, barley and rice.

Grains are of 2 kinds:  Whole and refined grain. A grain contains three parts: bran, germ and endosperm You can read about the parts of a grain in this post here. The important thing to remember is that the whole grain contains the bran, germ, and endosperm and will provide you with all of the nutrients that whole grains have to offer. As a result, the increase in blood sugar when eating whole grains is very slow due to the fibre and protein. On the other hand refined grains have undergone a fair bit of processing and contain only the endosperm or the starchy part. Most of the vitamins and minerals have been removed. Difference between whole wheat and whole grain Common myth: whole wheat and whole grain are the same. Whole wheat flour is still refined, has undergone a fair bit of processing in which a significant portion of the germ and the bran is removed. This results is a loss in vitamins, minerals and fibre (though whole wheat does contain more fibre than white flour.) In contrast, whole grains include the whole kernel, including the bran and the germ. As a result whole grains are nutrient packed. Similar to fibre containing foods the increase in blood sugar for whole grains is way slower than refined grains. The fibre and protein in the food slows down the increase in blood sugar, and that is what you need to manage your blood sugar and diabetes.

Protip: Choose whole grains over whole whole wheat Now lets us get to the real reason of why I started writing this post i.e strategies to manage your carbohydrate intake when you have diabetes.

  1. Now that you know how to recognize sugars, read food labels. If there are ingredients that you do not understand on the label, do not buy the product. You cannot afford to put anything in your body that you know nothing about and don’t even recognize the name.
  2. Choose water over fizzy sugar-sweetened drinks to keep you hydrated. If you do not like the taste of water, invest in an infuser bottle. Slice up your favorite fruit and fill up with water. Keep refilling. You can even use sparkling water if you are crazy about the fizz.
  3. The simplest one – don’t keep sugary drinks in the house. If they’re not easily accessible, you can’t drink them. Save them for time out with family and friends or your vacation. In any case these drinks were never meant to be staples. They were meant as a real treat. Remember, the good old days when you were younger!
  4. If you really must have juice in the morning, limit to ½ cup and water it down to a 1 cup.
  5. Choose Unsweetened so you can control the amount of sugar being added. Example unsweetened chocolate, unsweetened oatmeal, unsweetened peanut butter, unsweetened soymilk and so on.
  6. Do not go “Cold turkey”. In my experience when people go cold turkey, they fall off quickly. Slow and steady wins the race. Try reducing the amount of sugar to half of what you take in your coffee, or cut back on the portion of ice-cream or cake or pudding. Give yourself a good 2 weeks for the change to sink in. If you fall off in between. Get back on track. DO NOT GIVE UP.
  7. Go stronger on sweet flavors like vanilla rather than on the sugar. For instance you can order an unsweetened latte and add flavor with cocoa or vanilla powder. You could skip the flavored oatmeal and add a sweet kick with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. A big advantage when sprinkling on the cinnamon: according to a meta-analysis in the Journal of Medicinal Food, cinnamon has been shown to naturally regulate blood sugar, which helps control your appetite. That sure is a win win. What say!
  8. If you are a dessert person, set some rules for yourself for frequency, occasion and portions and stick to them. Be mindful of your actions. Before you grab that killer cheesecake, count backward from 10 to 0 and think about the past week. I promise the effect of this simple trick will be enlightening.
  9. Often times sugar cravings set in when you are hungry. Get in the habit of pairing protein or fat with whole grains for your main meals. This practice will control your hunger and your sugar cravings will gradually fade away.

Do you have any strategies that you can share? Did you try any of these strategies? How was your experience?

Share in the comment box below!


12 ways to manage your weight by choosing smart snacks that will make you feel fuller

12 ways to manage your weight by choosing smart snacks that will make you feel fuller

Let me share a silly joke with you: A patient goes to the doctor with a stomach ache. The doctor assesses the patient and says that he needs to eat less and that the pain is due to overeating. The doc then suggests some meals that the patient should be eating. Before leaving the patient asks the doc: the suggestions that you have provided are to be eaten before a meal or after meal!!!! Say what????????? This is how several people snack. People forget that a snack is snack, and not a meal. And,unfortunately we do not have a second stomach for our snacks. I wish we did! So it is extremely important that we make smart snack choices that make us feel full and that we do not pack on pounds with the snack choices we make.  

To begin with I need you to understand that healthy snacks play an important role in:

  1. Weight management by preventing overeating at meal times.
  2. Stabilize blood sugar levels and prevents any spikes thus having a positive effect on weight management. This is especially helpful for individuals living with diabetes.
  3. Meet your nutrient needs for the day. As an example if you did not eat vegetables at lunch but snacked on them you are golden.
  4. Curbing cravings: it has been proven when you have full stomach the cravings are reduced. Snacks prevent the body going into famine mode that slows down the metabolism making it easier to gain weight.
  5. Keeping you in a good mood. Healthy snacks provide you with the much needed energy consistently through the day. So you can focus better and your mood remains good.

Now that you are pretty clear that you must make healthy snack choices, you may wish to know what types of snacks should you chose. Well read on………….

  1. Avoid carbohydrates as snacks as much as you can: Save the carbs for you main meals so feel satisfied and content after you have eaten your lunch/dinner. Not being content and satisfied after eating your main meals is one of the main reasons why people choose unhealthy snacks after dinner. And these snacks are usually carb snacks, with no portion control. The result = weight gain.
  2. Choose Low Glycemic Index snack foods more often: Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale that ranks carbohydrate rich foods based on how much they increase blood glucose levels about 2-3 hours after eating. The GI uses a numbering system to identify foods as low GI (less than 55), medium GI (55-70) or high GI (more than 70) compared to glucose which is 100. Foods with a high GI are more quickly digested, and cause a larger increase in blood glucose, than foods with a low GI. Foods with a low GI are digested more slowly and do not raise blood glucose as high, or as quickly, as high GI foods. You can read more about glycemic index right here.
  3. Try to have snacks that include 2-3 foods groups: When you combine 2-3 food groups for your snacks you get 2 benefits: 
  • Benefit of feeling fuller and content that leads into controlled portions at meal times. For example if you were to have fruit only Vs fruit + hummus or peanut butter or even cheese. You would feel fuller and more content with the 2nd option. That is because of the effect of the fat and protein on hunger. If you have not given it a try, go ahead and try it. Post your experience in the comment box below.
  • The benefit of keeping your blood sugar levels stable. When you keep your blood sugar levels stable you help not only prevent Type 2 Diabetes and other chronic diseases, you will also notice that you have more energy levels and feel more satiated/content between meals. Food combinations that allows you to maintain stable blood sugar levels will also help you feel less hungry and reduce your cravings for unhealthy foods. You will also improve your metabolism with the foods you choose to eat, which is key to making weight loss and maintenance easier.

4. Always include protein as one of your food group when choosing your snacks: According to a 2004 review article published in “Journal of the American College of Nutrition, protein is the best nutrient to make you feel more satiated and less hungry until your next meal, and it also contributes to raising your metabolism. Aim to combine low-glycemic carbohydrates and protein as your snack choices. This will will keep your blood sugar levels stable and increase your metabolism hence maintaining your weight or even losing if that is what is you are trying to achieve.

5. Stay away from 100 calorie snack packs: This is one way of the food industry trying to make money and as consumers we get sucked into this rabbit hole. Be true to yourself, can you stop at just one pack? Some of you may disagree with me and say that you are able to stop after one!. That is excellent! For most people, they are not able to stop at 1 pack. And that is the problem. Research published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that smaller “snack” packages encouraged participants to eat nearly twice as much, often without hesitation, than people who ate from larger packages. So, the purpose of 100 calories/bag is lost. A strategy that you could implement is pairing the 100 calorie snack pack with a protein or a good fat. For example, if you are having chips, perhaps adding 15 almonds will help in reducing the number of 100 calorie bags you might land up eating. The other problem with 100 calorie snack packs is that most of them have do not contain hunger controlling nutrients. Hence combining them with protein or good fats is a good strategy.  

6. Avoid drinking your snacks: The biggest mistake! When you are hungry avoid drinking that latte or frappucino. These drinks are loaded with calories, are high glycemic index sugars and fats. The perfect formula to an exploding waist line! The drink will provide temporary satisfaction, you will load on 500 – 1000 calories with only a negative after effect. You can read more about sugary drinks in my blog post here.

7. Think of soups as snacks: When you go to a restaurant, you may order soup as an appetizer, right! So why can’t a soup be a snack? Soups (the not so creamy ones) make a nutritionally balanced snack. Pair with some melba toast or crackers – perfect combination. Give it a try and let me know how did it do. Post in the comment box below!

8. If you have a sweet tooth, count the dessert as your snack: Your desserts also contribute to your total calorie intake. There is no separate stomach for you desserts. If having a dessert is absolutely necessary for you, you may want to reduce your rice/paste intake by ¼ or ½ or your bread to 1 slice rather than 2 or 3. Increase your vegetable intake – eat them first. This way you will be able to incorporate the dessert into your daily meals. Do you have any other trick? Share in the comment box below!

9. When watching TV either avoid snacking completely or have only portion of a healthy snack: Similar to the dessert trick make room for the night time snacking if that is your way of relaxation. Better still have 1 portion of the snack and go brush your teeth. I can guarantee you will be very lazy to go and brush again if you snack again.

10. Plan your snacks just as your meals: You eat your meals right. Same way you eat your snacks! So, just as you plan your meals, plan your snacks. If not you will be hunting the whole house for some snacks,, and most often they land up to be not the healthiest ones. Next when you go grocery shopping include snacks as part of your grocery list. If not, make sure you pick up 2 types of snacks/week.

11. Include at least 2 snacks during your day: As I have mentioned above that snacks can help you manage your hunger, thus control your weight. It is a good idea to incorporate 2 snacks/day. Try to eat your snack after 3 hours of your main meal. You can have 1 snack at around 10:30 – 11am and the other one around 3-4 pm. This will help control your hunger at dinner. You should be aiming to eat ⅔ rd of your total calorie intake for the day by around 3 pm. This way your calorie intake until dinner is much more controlled and when you reach home from work you are not starving.

12. Limit the calories for snacks between 100- 250: Ideally each snack must vary between 100- 250 calories and 500- 600 calories for each of your main meal depending upon your age, height and weight. Try to stick to these guidelines as much as possible. This will help you manage your weight. If you need more guidance then consult a Registered Dietitian who can individualize recommendations for you.

        Now tell me what is/are your favorite snack combinations?

Post in the comment box below.

10 simple reasons why should you be planning your meals?

10 simple reasons why should you be planning your meals?

Meal Planning is not a favorite with many people including myself. Yes,really this is true. I am also just like all of you reading this post. However, the reality is that Meal Planning is a neccessary evil!

My take on meal planning is just like an investment. You invest in stocks, shares, bonds and so on for a safe financial future, when you get older. To me investing time in planning mine and my family’s meals is like investing for a healthier life when me and my husband are older. When my children are older.

Whatever you put in your body today will show up in form your health status when you are older. So, make the leap today for better tomorrow.

Also be sure to download the Non-Perishable Food List, since that can go along way in getting your meal planning mission in order.

Post any comments, questions below!


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